Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 3/5
Reality Z is a series of two halves, both figuratively and literally. On the one hand, the series does little to differentiate itself from the wealth of undead content out there and the show does itself no favours with the way it takes inspiration from Dead Set and portrays a like-for-like recreation early on. When you get past the opening 4 or 5 episodes however, Reality Z really settles into its role and delivers a surprisingly enjoyable zombie series that makes a lot of effort to change its cast of disposable characters often and present the zombie threat as a genuinely concerning incident.
For those unaware of Dead Set or haven’t seen that show, Reality Z switches the dreary, grey-skied normality of Britain for the sun-soaked splendor of Brazil. Within the capital of Rio, reality TV show Olimpo gets underway and it’s eviction night. Only, it’s also the night that the zombie apocalypse begins. With the housemates inside unaware of what’s happening and chaos gripping the country outside, what follows is a familiar set-up of a misfit group teaming up to try and survive the end of the world. It’s all very obvious and predictable and with each episode clocking in at around 30 minutes or so, you’d be forgiven for turning this off halfway through and giving up.
That would be a shame though because when Reality Z finally starts to branch out and carve itself an original slice of zombified pie, the show is all the stronger for it. Characters are killed off, main characters shift allegiances depending on the situation and all the while the show undermines this with a constant untrusting nature toward most of the players inside this house that find themselves caught in impossible circumstances. While most do adopt the usual tropes you’d expect from a show like this, there are a few stand-out players that make the journey worth taking, leading to a climax that leaves things wide open for a possible second season.
Stylistically, the series uses a lot of practical effects so expect gore, violence and blood to be a mainstay. It certainly isn’t for the squeamish but reality Z undermines some of this good work with an abundance of cheesy montage segments at the end of every episode and a lot of slow-motion shots that lose some of that initial tension in the moment during action sequences.
Alongside that though is a dark humour that rears its head at opportune moments and delivers some genuinely funny moments. Hearing the housemates cheer when a blood-soaked producer rushes into the house, believing she’s a new housemate, is one such example of this absurdist humour that works so well.
Of course, because of the genre it finds itself in Reality Z still suffers the same problems that plague these zombie shows. It’s pretty generic in its depiction of the apocalypse, it all takes places in lightning quick time and the characters don’t have enough stand-out traits to make them worth rooting for that much. The episodes are light and breezy, doing well to keep things moving at a quick pace, but it does take a while to get to that aforementioned good stuff to make the journey worth taking.
Whether you’ll make it past the first half of the show to get there remains to be seen and inevitably there will be a lot of people who turn this off long before that point. If you can go in with some patience and get to the second-half of the series, Reality Z does become a lot more palatable but it still doesn’t do enough to stand out next to others in this genre. It’s not a bad show per-se, but it’s not a particularly great one either, making for a pretty indifferent zombie flick shuffling its way onto Netflix.