Black Summer: Here’s why it sucked (and a few reasons why it didn’t)

Jaime King stars as Rose in Netflix's 'Black Summer'
Jaime King stars as Rose

Full disclaimer here: I love anything to do with zombies. In fact, fast zombies, such as the ones seen in Black Summer, are the one thing that truly terrifies me.

However, Netflix’s Black Summer is where I draw the line. And, had I known it was hooked into the Z Nation universe (the one other zombie series I don’t like) via its creators, I probably would have not binged on the series at all.

However, binge I did.

Which, I guess, says something for the series because I legit watched this all in one sitting.

So, what’s so terrible about it?

For starters, there is a whole level of dumb that I just wasn’t expecting. Set not long after a zombie apocalypse, according to Forbes, many characters are literally running for their lives from zombies that are incredibly fast and strong.

In fact, that seems to be Lance’s only story arc — the fact that he runs.

However, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of people using anything but their own feet as transport and I’m not sure why that is. For those that are in cars, there seems to be a battle to rule supreme as the only person left with a car.

In one instance, two groups spend far too long driving around. One group is trying to attack the other group who is trying to escape.

These two groups later end up stuck together in a diner.

Which leads me to the other dumb thing: no one is really planning ahead here.

When these two groups are stuck together in a diner, which seems to be the only place that zombies can’t break into and has plenty of food, the group decides the only thing they must do is to leave.

They don’t even take a lot of supplies with them after they leave.

Now sure, one character, Rose, is on a journey to find her daughter, who was taken to a stadium by the army. But, wouldn’t she want a snack for the road?

Apparently not.

And while we know that Rose has a story arc by wanting to find her daughter, nearly everyone else has no discernible backstory. In fact, none of the characters are developed enough for you to really care about. Out of the large group, the only character I truly liked was Sun.

And she couldn’t speak any English.

In addition, there is not a lot of door closing going on. Now, I know things get confusing when you are running for your life. But, eventually, at some point, people should be working out how to close doors behind them as they are trying to escape.

This. Literally. Never. Happens.

In fact, one group likes to chock their doors open.

But, there are kids in a school who have decided that the only thing to do during the zombie apocalypse is to lure people into the school and slaughter them.

And, Black Summer spends so long stuck in this story arc that one character, Lance, finds the library and aggressively reads rather than participate any longer.

Now, let’s talk about the nightclub.

Seriously, Black Summer has a nightclub that appears to be running 24/7. Once again, is no one stockpiling food here?

Plus, where is all the electricity coming from? Not only is the nightclub pumping but Lance walks into a grocery store that still has power — and is fully stocked. I hate to harp but, seriously, is anyone eating?

There is some good stuff though

According to Metro, Stephen King is raving about Black Summer on social media. One of the reasons he gives for liking the new Netflix series so much is the lack of dialogue.

And yes, there is far more action than you’ll see in The Walking Dead — a show that likes to get you involved with the characters before they slaughter them. So, if you just want mindless killing, this is the series for you.

Coming back to the character of Sun, who speaks mainly in Korean, I applaud the creators for not adding subtitles for the audience.

While this may have annoyed some viewers because you have no idea what she is talking about most of the time, I found that she manages to convey a lot via these one-sided conversations which adds a really interesting element.

It also made me think about how truly terrifying it would be to be stuck in another country during the zombie apocalypse when I didn’t speak the language.

The first half of the series also has a tense and terrifying pulse to it. Because the zombies are super fast, there is plenty of jump-scares to keep you watching.

In addition, the camera work gives it a kind of In The Flesh vibe to it (the British version), which creates an eerie atmosphere at the start of Black Summer.

While I may not have liked Black Summer, I did watch it to the end. Even though the second half was definitely worse than the first half, I kept watching because the episodes were short and, overall, Season 1 will only claim an afternoon of your life.

So, if you are rained in or have watched everything on Netflix, this is certainly the series to fill that hole.

Overall, though, if Netflix renews Black Summer for a second season, it is highly unlikely that I will be tuning in to follow the remaining survivors’ adventures.

The synopsis, according to Dread Central, for Black Summer is below.

“Set in the dark, early days of a zombie apocalypse, Black Summer stars Jaime King as Rose, a mother torn from her daughter who embarks upon a harrowing journey to find her. Thrust alongside a small group of American refugees, these complete strangers must find the strength they need to fight their way back to loved ones. But in order for Rose and her team to brave this hostile new world, they will need to make brutal decisions to contend with zombies – and each other.”

Black Summer is currently streaming globally on Netflix.

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3 years ago

“While this may have annoyed some viewers because you have no idea what she is talking about most of the time…” That wasn’t the annoying part. What was annoying was that she seemed to understand English almost perfectly, just couldnt speak it which is weird.

3 years ago
Reply to  LynxJSA

I mean for me what’s really weird about that is that she’s in a country, alone, where she doesn’t speak the language, nor does she speak a language commonly understood in that part of the world.

Even when there’s no zombie apocalypse that’s just setting yourself up for a super awkward time.

My take: interesting premise, interesting situations, everyone except spears, sun maybe (don’t really know what she’s doing there, she was really annoying at first but is growing on me) and William makes the most ridiculous, emotional decisions and utterly lacks situational awareness. Who the hell comes up with these characters?? It’s like if they had a brainstorming session and slowly filtered out all of the logical or compelling character traits until only the most infeasible ones were left, the kind that would get anyone dead within an hour in any apocalyptic situation, then said eureka, we’ve done it – this is sure to annoy viewers to no end and prevent anyone from taking our show seriously.

I watched 2 1/2 episodes and then just couldn’t anymore.

2 years ago
Reply to  mjl

How can you comment when you didnt see it through? And clearly you’ve never taken a vacation in a non-english speaking country..

2 years ago

Black summer insults my little intelligence. I only managed to watch the fast episode and half the second and to be honest nothing in it adds up.

2 years ago

The movie is missing important elements inherent to holding a person’s interest and it could use better set up as explained in an earlier comment above. I had invested too much time to leave before the hook.

Asian who speaks english
Asian who speaks english
2 years ago

Another way to dehumanize Asians in shows! Everybody speaks English but somehow, Asians can’t! This trend has to stop