Black Summer is a Netflix horror drama series that debuted on April 11, 2019. Crafted as a prequel to the popular Syfy series Z Nation, Black Summer strips away the humour and camp to present a raw, unfiltered look at a zombie apocalypse.
In doing so, the show manages to find its own distinct voice in the crowded landscape of zombie fiction.
With its real-time action, disjointed storytelling, and tense atmosphere, Black Summer demands your attention from start to finish.
What Is Black Summer About?
Black Summer season one is set in the early days of a zombie apocalypse and revolves around disparate groups of survivors as they navigate a crumbling society.
No explanation for the carnage sweeping the country is given. But it's clear from the opening scenes that the zombies in Black Summer move much quicker than the ones in The Walking Dead.
A single bite is enough to turn a victim into a zombie; the transformation from human to undead happens almost instantly for those bitten.
Our main character is Rose (Jaime King), a mother who is separated from her daughter during the outbreak.
Teaming up with other survivors, she embarks on a perilous journey to reunite with her child. To escape the outbreak Rose must get her family to a football stadium downtown where the US Army is evacuating the local population.
Left with no choice, Rose teams up with a group of strangers, each battling their own personal demons, in a desperate attempt to get to the stadium that promises safety and the reunion with her daughter.
Although Rose remains the central figure, the story follows different survivors, such as Lance, Julius James, and Kyungsun, among others, allowing you to witness the crisis unfold from multiple perspectives.
These individual stories gradually converge as the complete strangers band together and make their way toward the stadium, revealing a world where trust is a luxury and survival is a brutal, minute-to-minute struggle.
Black Summer Official Trailer
Is Black Summer Worth Watching?
The creators, John Hyams and Karl Schaefer, bring a unique take to the genre by adopting a more realistic approach, often using long single-take shots to immerse the audience into real-time action sequences.
They also opted for limited use of dialogue, relying more on the atmosphere and visual cues to convey the unfolding horror and tension.
In one sense, the group/team element of Black Summer feels very much like The Walking Dead. However, many of the main players in this show meet sudden and gory deaths. You'll never know who's going to die next.
Another difference between these two shows is the moral compass of the characters. The Walking Dead clearly has its good guys and bad guys.
However, in Black Summer these distinctions are blurred, seemly good people will do terrible things when a life and death decision has to be made. In that respect, the series feels more realistic.
While it doesn't break new ground, what it does do it does well. The cast is excellent, and visually the series looks great, almost movie quality.
That said, it never quite reached the heights which saw The Walking Dead become a genre-defining show. Nevertheless, it is still a hugely enjoyable zombie romp.
How Many Seasons Of Black Summer?
Despite being a huge success for Netflix, there are only two seasons of Black Summer.
The second season, which premiered in 2021, expands the scope and depth of the show by introducing new characters and diving into the psychological trauma that accompanies the apocalypse.
This time, Rose's search for her daughter continues, but with the increasing threat posed by both the undead and the living.
Throughout this season, the story takes unexpected turns, forcing characters to grapple with cold-blooded new challenges, moral dilemmas and existential questions, adding layers to the usual action and horror.
Sadly, there is no third season.
Where Was Black Summer Filmed?
Black Summer was primarily filmed in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The Canadian location provides a variety of settings that help to create the post-apocalyptic atmosphere that is a cornerstone of the series.
The locations range from suburban neighbourhoods to urban areas, all of which are portrayed as desolate and hazardous terrains where the characters must navigate both zombie and human threats.
The choice of location also allows for the utilisation of empty, rundown buildings and open spaces to stage the series' numerous tense action sequences and set pieces.
Locations used include Queen Elizabeth High School, McMahon Stadium, Stampede Park and under the Calgary Tower.
Overall, the filming location contributes to the show's aim for a realistic and gritty atmosphere.
Black Summer Cast
Jaime King as Rose, a mother who is separated from her daughter during the earliest and deadliest days of a zombie apocalypse
Justin Chu Cary as Julius James, a criminal who took the identity of “Spears”, the name of the soldier he killed
Christine Lee as Sun Kyungsun, a Korean woman who is looking for her missing mother
Kelsey Flower as Lance, a young survivor with no family
Sal Velez Jr as William Velez, a pole lineman who has a sister and children in Texas
Erika Hau as Carmen, Manny's girlfriend
Gwynyth Walsh as Barbara Watson, a woman who has survived without her husband
Mustafa Alabssi as Ryan, a deaf survivor
Edsson Morales as Manny, Carmen's boyfriend
Zoe Marlett as Anna, Rose and Patrick's daughter
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