Monday, June 15, 2020

[Review] Netflix’s “Reality Z” Works as Remake and Sequel to “Dead Set”

Two years before The Walking Dead premiered and put zombies back in fashion, five-part miniseries Dead Set broadcast in the UK over consecutive days leading up to Halloween. The horror-comedy saw a zombie outbreak occur while a Big Brother-like reality series was well underway, with the contestants locked inside wholly unaware. Until it bled over into their world, that is. The premise was all the more relevant considering Dead Set aired on the same channel as Big Brother, mere weeks after its latest season wrapped. Like most zombie narratives, the mix of social commentary, wit, and grue made it a hit. Both it and creator Charlie Brooker’s later series Black Mirror would find popular homes on Netflix. Reality Z uses Dead Set as a basis to craft its own zombie outbreak story set in Brazil, at once creating a remake and sequel to the regarded series.

For fans of Dead SetReality Z looks uncannily similar to its predecessor. Aside from the different setting and aesthetic updates, the core plot and character dynamics feel almost beat for beat identical. It opens with the outbreak already well underway, with the closed set of reality series Olympus none the wiser. At least until the zombies pervade, and the production studio becomes a fortress against the outside world. The only real difference, however, is that there’s a minor subplot featuring an additional set of characters slowly making their way toward the studio. When the original Dead Set story ends, these characters take center stage to carry the plot forward.

Created by Cláudio Torres, each of the brisk, ten episodes average 30-minutes, which means that it’s easily digestible. Moreover, the format and perpetual rotation of characters make this feel like an abridged version of The Walking Dead. Characters you start to care for die and become zombies, forcing you to shift allegiance to a new hopeful survivor. The short format also means there’s not as much room for depth as long-form shows. The tone changes dramatically, too, once Reality Z slips into sequel mode. The humor wanes as humanity grows grimmer.

The cyclical nature of this story seems to be the point. There’s clear commentary in how the studio setting and the popularity of the reality show filmed there creates a detachment for the characters; some frame their decisions as if they’re directing their own reality series rather than confronting actual reality. Mostly, though, it’s a bleak depiction of the repetitive inability to learn from mistakes or how inherent immoral selfishness always leads to doom. Over and over and over again, zombie stories reveal the ugliest aspects of humanity, and yet no one learns. Though there’s always a glimmer of hope for the future, however slim.

That’s always what makes the zombie subgenre seem stale. While Reality Z is timely in its themes, both regional and universal, it doesn’t offer anything new. As the characters as doomed to repeat the same mistakes, so too are we to see the same tried and true zombie story repeat itself. Multiple times, in this instance. There’s a lot to like about what Torres has created. He goes heavy on the gore, and the cast all deliver compelling performances to keep you engaged and hitting play on the next episode. Opening up the world beyond the studio and introducing a more extensive cast of characters also allows for exploration of some topical subtext. That it’s Brazil’s first zombie series means more exposure on a global scale, as well as the introduction of a perspective. That’s always a cool thing. Overall, it’s a well-executed show, and it’s easy to see why it’s become popular in Brazil. Just one that’s best suited for those who haven’t grown tired of zombie stories yet, because this doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before.

Reality Z is available to stream on Netflix now.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Got any friends who might like this scary horror stuff? GO AHEAD AND SHARE, SHARE!


Some of Scary Horror Stuff's Freakiest Short Horror Film Features!

The latest on the horror genre, everything you need to know, from Freddy Krueger to Edgar Allan Poe.

How Plausible Is It to Have the "Hocus Pocus" Kids Back for Some More Halloween Hijinks?

Potentially very good. See below. It turns out that the announcement is official according to the Carrie Bradshaw of the Sanderson bunch (Sarah Jessica Parker): there will be a "Hocus Pocus" sequel, premiering on Disney+.