Why Black Summer's Jaime King Didn't Think Of The Z Nation Prequel As Horror

Black Summer Jaime King Rose Netflix
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Z Nation prequel series, Black Summer, is now on Netflix. It is a post-apocalyptic drama with various horror elements thrown in – there are zombies, after all. However, star Jaime King approached the series from a different angle, and did not generally think of the show as being a genre horror piece.

Given the presence of the undead, which tend to conjure up graphic images reminiscent of the George Romero movies and Walking Dead episodes, that may seem like a contradiction. Jaime King has a good reason for why she did not think of it that way, though. Case in point: the real world implications of the story. Meditating on the series, King told Comic Book:

It's interesting, because I didn't ever think about it as horror. Because it never read as horror, right? When in the script it talked about outbreak and people getting sick. Our killer makeup artist and chief special effects spent months studying MRSA and Ebola, and worked for months to get the makeup perfect for John. Because when you actually look at when people get sick, this really actually happens. The attack on the immune system, on the lymphatic system, everything was perfectly placed. The bleeding of the nose and the ears, and when they vomit and its blood. That actually happens and it's terrifying. And I think it was more of the horror of the fact that it was still real, that I just prepared it as I always do, which is like a straight up, intense drama.

Jaime King’s awareness of the show's more realistic factors caused her to approach Black Summer from an alternative perspective. The new Netflix show is a prequel to the SyFy series, Z Nation, and follows King’s character Rose, who gets separated from her daughter at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. Sounds like a horrific experience by all means, even if it's not a horror-centric one.

Black Summer follows her as she attempts to find her daughter, alongside a group of refugees who, like Rose, are also trying to survive. Post-apocalyptic survival series are pretty much their own subgenre at this point, and they usually involves violence.

When Jaime King read the script for Black Summer, she wanted to know how the show would handle that element. Even after she finished reading, she wondered about it more. Why? Because it wasn't traditionally soaked in blood and viscera and other hallmarks of horror filmmaking. King said:

[The script] didn't seem gory or anything like that. So I asked, ‘Is it gonna be Hitchcockian?’ And he said ‘Well, you know when you hear a car crash, and then you turn around to see it? It's like that.’ Immediately, I was like, ‘All right, I'm in.’ Because I didn't want to make a show that was some gore fest. Trust me, I love genre and I've done horror and I've done all kinds of things. But as a citizen and as a mother, I wanted to be on the same page as him and tell a story that had all of these different kinds of elements, but in the most suspenseful, honest way possible.

It sounds like viewers will be hearing more violent incidents than they will be seeing them. That approach will assure that the gore factor should be held to a minimum, which is something that will likely appeal to those who are in it for the drama over the effects. Based on what Jaime King is saying, Black Summer sounds as though it will encompass many different genres.

While horror fans will undoubtedly find Black Summer appealing, those searching for more emotionally centered drama may also find themselves intrigued. If you are a fan of thrillers with real-world implications that are contained inside a post-apocalyptic story with zombies, Black Summer should be your only next binge.

The new streaming series also offers fans of the predecessor series a chance to re-enter the world of Z Nation. The SyFy show got cancelled ahead of its fifth season finale in late 2018. Its prequel series, which consists of eight episodes debuted on Netflix today (April 11). You can check out the trailer below:

As you can see, people making tough decisions will be at the fore of the series, and some big drama will be going down. It looks like The Walking Dead meets World War Z, with a little of 2005’s War of the Worlds thrown in there, too.

For those who like the zombie genre, Black Summer should be an eventful marathon watch. Especially since The Walking Dead has finished its ninth season. What better way to handle the wait for Season 10 than with another zombie series?

Ready to watch? Netflix is ready for you, too! Black Summer is currently streaming, among a bunch of other April premieres.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.