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“Die Zombie Die… Again”, episode nine of the first season of The Asylum’s Z Nation resonated with me at different levels. I’ve been liking this series and thought it was newer than what is. It’s from 2014 and it was of interest to me because of one thing: the change on the tone of the series, that I didn’t see coming.
When I was watching it, I was having the peak experience of the last three or so weeks. I thought that it had a lot of borrowing from the Twilight Zone‘s dreamscape and Lost’s dead-all-along trope vibes to it.
I didn’t watch the whole Lost but just the first season. Sorry if I spoil it for you even if my interpretation of it is incorrect, but what I saw of the last episodes of Lost had a dead-all-along feel to me. This different episode in the series plays with your head a lot, it’s very surreal for moments, and neighboring on the Lynchean.
A Drama Arthouse Horror Curve Ball
“Die Zombie Die… Again” has slightly above average ranking on IMDb, as of this writing, 5.3. I would have rated it higher because it is a very well done one hour story. It has a dream-based surreal vibe and at the same time, borrows from the art-house style that made it enjoyable to watch.
I’m going by season eight of “The Walking Dead” and after more than eighty episodes of zombie drama of monomyth format to see an episode of a zombie series that through the dreaming device makes an arthouse story was refreshing.
Addy (Anastasia Baranova) and Mack (Michael Welch) separate from the group of protagonists and end up in a squalid area of warehouses that looks like a warzone.
Mack keeps on falling asleep and dreaming very similar dreams that he wakes up from being asleep and that he can’t find Addy. A big brute of a zombie has Addy’s pendant, and Addy is nowhere to be seen.
In the process of searching for Addy, he always fights the zombie and either chasing each other or fighting they come to a place where there’s a container house that Mack thinks the zombie giant is preventing him from seeing what’s inside.
Z Nation is a horror-comedy series but this episode is drama. Still, is not only that the actors had the advantage of the dramatic nature of the episode to use their talents to the greatest extent possible.
Three Characters and a Mildly Arthouse Horror Drama
The faces that Michael Welch does when killing the zombie are a sight to behold. This actor reminded me of Conjob, and they should have picked someone who looks like Welch, instead of Keanu Reeves like they did. At least they could have made Keanu dye his hair blonde. But not Welch, tell him to wear a raincoat and you have a very feasible Ultimate Con Man.
I loved Anastasia Baranova’s acting, but I might be biased because she reminded me too much a of schoolmate of my teenage years.
I must say I’m enjoying it and I think it does a great job of being a comedy because it makes a great counterpart to the drama of “The Walking Dead”.
Think of it, series about zombies are something relatively new, and there are many angles on the zombie apocalypse that are still waiting for someone to take them.
The only thing I don’t like/wouldn’t like of this episode of Z Nation is people that knock it down because they don’t understand.
As a whole, I’m liking Z Nation a lot, and The Asylum has over-delivered pertaining the expectations I had about it as a studio.
If you don’t know too much about story structure, and you are a monomyth (American) audiovisual buff, something as arthouse as this may bore you.
The Asylum took the comedy angle in the world of zombie series. That fact makes this series very recommendable. I love zombies and comedies, but this episode is precisely one of the ones that’s less comedic series. It’s a very dark, anxiety-inducing story, not a comedy.
If you like drama horror you could watch this episode without watching the whole series and enjoy it because it’s a very neat little self-contained horror drama story.
One person that read one of my horror screenplays in Amazon’s Commissary Forum said that as he saw it, I could pitch it to The Asylum, that they produce that kind of stuff. I was pretty much ignorant of The Asylum and my first contact with this studio was this series.
The reader who told me that sounded like he knew his stuff. But as I said, I didn’t know TA yet. After watching nine episodes of Z Nation I’m starting to like The Asylum and I feel flattered by what that reader told me.
What is great about this episode is that it sheds its artsy pretentions by the end of the episode with a dramatic resolution that’s not arthouse in the least.