The Boss Is Back
Friends and Enemies
The Perfect Soldier
The Devil Lurks
We Are Not Animals
There seems to be no end to zombie material. From The Walking Dead and Dead Set through to Black Summer and To The Lake, there’s been a constant flux of material across the small screen to keep zombie enthusiasts satisfied.
Given how many shows there are in this genre, there’s a steep hill to climb to stand out. Next up on this revolving door of shows is S.O.Z.: Soldiers or Zombies.
This Mexican series comes hot off the heels of last year’s Reality Z and, more recently, Black Summer. However, it fails to match up to either. While the story premise is okay, S.O.Z. has a serious exposition problem. It also has difficulty developing its characters beyond stock archetypes too, making for an action-packed and campy – but ultimately underwhelming – series.
Split across 8 episodes, this pacey zombie series takes your usual set-up of a zombie outbreak but this time pits the undead against a Mexican cartel. There’s a lot more going on though, with plenty of interwoven subplots that add more busywork to the fold.
It’s an intriguing idea in truth, and instead of infected monkeys like 28 Days Later, S.O.Z. switches that out for infected pigs instead. Of course, after a few episodes everything goes wrong and the infection begins to spreads.
This usual zombie outbreak story coincides with an extradition of prolific Mexican inmate, Alonso Marroquin. He’s known as Da Vinci around these parts, well-known for slipping through police custody. Well, this time it’s Lomas Altas Prison that’s left red-faced. Marroquin escapes from prison and reunites with his son.
As a manhunt gets underway, a cat and mouse chase begins between law enforcement and Marroquin. There are echoes of Z-Nation here with some of the ridiculous twists and campy tone, including a mad scientist referred to as “The Snowman.” This guy crops up repeatedly through the series, even going so far as to experiment on humans.
There’s a lot of wackiness in this and plenty of other subplots that I haven’t even mentioned. The perspective shifts constantly, keeping things pacey. As the series progresses, the story really starts to ramp up its campiness. I won’t spoil anything here but suffice to say if you enjoyed the zombie tornados and human/zombie hybrid wackiness in Z-Nation, you should find enough to like here.
Where the show is less forgivable however, comes from its aesthetic. The CGI here is… bad, to say the least. Literally the first scene of the first episode shows a zombie jumping down a cliff and defying the laws of gravity. It wasn’t forgivable with Spider-Man back in 2002 and there’s not much excuse for it here either.
Alongside the CGI though is a distinct lack of character depth. Everyone just feels very archetypal and the show juggles to give much nuance to the personas on display. This is one of the biggest differences between this and something like Z-Nation, which managed to have some really endearing characters. Here though, everyone save for Marroquin just feels disposable.
If you can go in to S.O.Z. with low expectations, you should find enough to like here. Beyond the questionable aesthetic and wonky CGI is a story brimming with creativity to keep things entertaining. It’s not perfect but the ridiculousness and twists should be enough to keep you watching until the end.
Verdict - 5.5/10