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[Review] SYFY’s “Day of the Dead” Is One Zombie Series That’s Especially Rotten and Lifeless

[Review] SYFY's "Day of the Dead" Is One Zombie Series That’s Especially Rotten and Lifeless

SYFY’s revamp of Romero’s zombie basic provides little to the overcrowded nook of horror and loses itself in generic melodrama and scares.

Do we’d like one other zombie tv present?

That’s the query that’s inherently on everybody’s minds once they even hear a few new zombie tv sequence that pulls from George A. Romero’s Day of the Useless. What can it probably do or say that hasn’t already been exhausted in Black Summer time, Z Nation, iZombie, Santa Clarita Weight-reduction plan, final 12 months’s COVID-inspired The Chew, or the tons of of episodes of content material that exist inside the still-growing Strolling Useless related universe?

The quantity of horror that’s taken a chew out of this undead archetype has develop into as plentiful as a horde of zombies. This doesn’t imply that this materials ought to be off the desk, nevertheless it simply makes it more and more necessary to have a singular perspective and do one thing totally different with zombies. To be clear, it’s completely high-quality to only be an entertaining zombie sequence that’s excessive within the physique depend, heavy within the gore, and never curious about being something deeper, nevertheless it nonetheless must work and have a standpoint. Romero’s unique movies had a pure social commentary subtext constructed into them. Not every part must be multi-layered excessive artwork, however in a style that’s over-bloated in each tv and movie it’s crucial for Day of the Useless to not simply develop into yet one more zombie present. Day of the Useless is busy and bloody, nevertheless it struggles to discover a distinct voice among the many sea of undead groans.

Day of the Useless’s depiction of the beginning of a zombie outbreak in small-town Mawinhaken focuses on six strangers who’re united by this catastrophe and proper from the in media res introduction the sequence telegraphs that it’s not curious about breaking recent floor with its zombies. Each the Bowmans and McDermotts are classically frayed households whose stresses get accelerated by this horrible apocalyptic tragedy, but it manages to unite them and go away them off stronger than ever earlier than. Day of the Useless usually will get a little bit too invested within the teen melodrama and angst, which reduces this materials to extra disposable content material that feels juvenile and pushed by adolescent impulses. Episodes get misplaced in pointless, ancillary plotting like shotgun weddings and disapproving mother and father, stealing a keg for a celebration, native elections, and stress to lose virginity. It doesn’t really feel like every of this can fulfill adults, and whereas it’d please among the teen demographic, there’s additionally extra considerate, higher trying variations of the identical concepts which are accessible in Dawn or The Strolling Useless: World Past.

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DAY OF THE DEAD — Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Daniel Doheny as Luke Bowman, Keenan Tracey as Cam McDermott — (Photograph by: DOTD S1 Productions/SYFY)

SYFY’s Day of the Useless is steadily at its strongest when it permits the group to band collectively and performance as a group, nevertheless it nonetheless has issue with creating fascinating characters. Honest moments will happen, however each situation is simply so inherently synthetic. The storylines that Day of the Useless decides to dedicate its consideration in the direction of are so complicated and tonally inconsistent. Episodes will verge into slapstick-esque comedy at a second’s discover and a few characters operate solely as black holes of awkward humor. There’s additionally a heavy-handed shadow group, Cleargenix Vitality, that features as a relentless reminder that firms may be much more evil than zombies. 

The entire small group versus “The Man” angle isn’t misplaced, however a condemnation of fracking doesn’t strengthen the message in Day of the Useless, both. At one level it incorporates Indigenous Folks into the zombie narrative because it digs into the reclamation of land, which scratches on the floor of one thing compelling, nevertheless it rapidly recedes into the background in favor of bloodier fare. The rote mayoral candidate angle feels equally extraneous and is extra successfully dealt with in one thing like The Purge. The truth is, the extent of social and environmental consciousness in Day of the Useless reads extra like The Poisonous Avenger moderately than the biting indictment of society that was naturally achieved in Romero’s unique movies.

There’s rather a lot to gripe over in Day of the Useless, nevertheless it’s a minimum of a sequence that accommodates some respectable gore. Every episode accommodates loads of motion and deaths of each the human and zombie persuasion. There’s a sequence at a morgue with trembling meat locker drawers that’s nicely conceived and a siege at a retirement dwelling that makes an attempt one thing totally different for the style. There are additionally some probing questions concerning the nature of how zombies are capable of keep “alive” for tons of of years and the science behind them, but additionally how you can weaponize this data to create zombie warriors. Nevertheless, none of those concepts take sufficient dangers in the long run. Sustaining the blue zombie aesthetic from the unique film, whereas silly-looking, would a minimum of give Day of the Useless a unique look from each different zombie present that’s been on TV for the previous decade. These undead threats seem like they’re straight out of The Strolling Useless and simply because this type labored for them doesn’t imply that it’s the perfect design right here. 

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The second half of the season inexplicably turns into extra of a Daybreak of the Useless remake because the forged takes refuge in a buying center-like fortress. As different zombie sequence have steadily indicated, holing up in a single place for an prolonged time frame normally doesn’t assist the present’s narrative and sometimes slows issues down. It’s some of these choices that make it really feel like Day of the Useless would have benefitted as a six-episode miniseries or SYFY Authentic film. Ten episodes is an excessive amount of time to spend on this repetitive materials.

This primary season does look in the direction of the long run and teases a second season with extra advanced zombies, in addition to grander issues and conspiracies, however not sufficient viewers could make it to the season’s conclusion to anticipate what’s on the horizon. There’s the potential to do one thing extra bold right here based mostly on the questions that the sequence begins to discover within the season’s concluding installments. Hopefully Day of the Useless can defy expectations and use this freshman season to study from its errors and create one thing tougher, In any other case, Day of the Useless is doomed to stay serviceable zombie fodder that blends in with the horde of undead programming that’s shambled onto tv all through the previous decade.

Season one among ‘Day of the Useless’ premieres October fifteenth at 10pm on SYFY.

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