post-apocalyptic

[Netflix Review] Reality Z Season 1 (2020) ★★★☆☆

Teresa and Leo in the house in Reality Z season 1

Reality Z takes a raw bite out of humanity with dead serious aim. 


Reality Z is a zombie horror Netflix Original series from Brazil. At first I should give you a fair warning. It’s a remake of the British zombie comedy horror Dead Set, but turns into a full on horror drama in which humanity is shown at its worst. To label it as a comedy would be misleading. It’s definitely not a comedy and not meant to be. It’s gruesome, it’s ugly, there’s power abuse, bigotry, drug abuse, a rape attempt, selfishness, it is humanity at its worst like the zombie apocalypse never happened. 

The series is divided into two parts that are easily mixed together. While the first part is a definite remake of Dead Set and has some juvenile humor, the second half takes a whole different direction, making what already happened even worse. 

This first season consists of 10 episodes with each a duration of 25-36 minutes. It is divided into two parts that merge naturally together. The second half being the most gruesome. It’s recommended to watch the series with its original Portuguese audio and with subtitles in your own language if possible. 


Plot

The successful reality show Olympus (Big Brother) has to say goodbye to another contestant who has been voted out. While a lot of people are standing outside the house, a zombie apocalypse breaks loose. The six contestants left are the only ones alive, and safe, while Brandão, the producer, Nina a gofer and the just exited contestant Jessica have locked themselves up. 

Meanwhile Leó and his mother Ana who has created the house are heading for Olympus while it’s a self-containing building, safely locked up where they might be able to survive. On the road they meet another group of survivors, and soon they find out that not every survivor has some morality left. 


Why you should watch it

Reality Z seems to start off as a cheesy comedy, but power abuse and hunger for control easily take over the somewhat juvenile humor. The first part is about Nina,  and the surviving contestants and Brandãos, who manipulates just like he did when they still were contestants and makes them turn against each other. It’s a fight for survival on multiple levels, turning it more into a serious heavy drama, and it slowly starts off the real underlying theme.

The theme of the series that is rooted in the Big Brother reality show itself, watching people being bullied, being a peeping tom, watching their every move, and you can even control their fate, becomes harsh reality. It’s about control and power. They even want to vote someone out, and instead of just exiting the house, they vote to kill. 

It’s a diverse group and most of them still think rationally, humane and want to help each other. There’s only one real bad guy and a very insecure guy easily manipulated, but all you need is one. 

This theme continues in the second half, when a new group arrives at the house. Season 2 if you will. It’s the turn of a fresh new group that tries to survive in the house. This time it’s also a diverse group, but with even less good people, some unstable people and some real bad guys. A second season is always nastier and is meant to turn up the audience ratings. The power abuse is pushed to the limit, that even some fairly bad guy can’t approve of. And now the voting is about to get cruel and mean. It’s a sarcastic nod to reality shows, in which we like people to get hurt emotionally, it’s pure gloating. 

And there’s nothing funny about that. Nor is the series itself. It’s harsh, cruel reality, it’s gruesome and it doesn’t spare its characters, isn’t afraid to kill their darlings. It’s not an all too optimistic view of mankind. It’s mainly mankind at its worst. Some good people survive, mostly bad people manage to stay alive with some nasty measures, but all will die. Good doesn’t prevail and it makes the series somewhat depressing even. 

There’s a lot of zombie action and kills but the focus shifts more and more to the power struggle between good and evil amongst the survivors. It’s about making choices what makes you either good or bad, but sadly it doesn’t have any influence on your survival.

The camera can be a bit shaky sometimes, for more real life effects. The music is often daring and fresh and adds to the drama that unfolds in a cynical way. 

Reality Z is a brutal harsh zombie horror series that evolves over time and gets better when turning into a serious social critique on humanity. It has an ending that doesn’t have a cliffhanger but enough possibilities to make a second season. And will let others try to survive a house full of treachery and abuse and they will hopefully make better decisions. 


My favorite part

The second half was totally new and fresh and Teresa and Leó and his mother Ana were great characters, who were the only moral compass of the group, to which sadly only one listened. It got interesting when two new groups arrived which stirred things up a bit, for the better and certainly for the worse. Levi played a foul game and showed the cruelness of letting people vote over the lives of others, this time quite literally. Some characters you will like very much, but be prepared for the worst. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Gore factor: ★★★★☆

Thrill factor: ★★★★☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★★★

Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

Reality Z is based on Dead Set and created by Cláudio Torres and João Costa. It stars Ana Hartmann (Nina), Ravel Andrade (Leó), Carla Ribas (Ana), Guilherme Weber (Brandão), Luellem de Castro (Teresa), João Pedro Zappa (TK), Emílio de Mello (Levi) and Pierre Baitalli (Robson).

Music: Luca Raele, Maurício Tagliari. Cinematography: Rodrigo Monte. Production company: Conspiração Filmes. Original network: Netflix. 


Check the trailer below