Z NationSeries: Z Nation
Episode: Puppies and Kitten (S1.E1)
Director: John Hyams
Original Air Date: September 12, 2014

Sometimes you just stumble on to a good thing. I was hopping on Netflix, hoping to start watching the series The Strain, when I discovered it is not available on Instant Queue yet. Instead, Netflix offered up Z Nation. I’d heard of Z Nation many times in the past, and knew it was basically SyFy Channel’s answer to The Walking Dead, which I love but am about two season behind on. I hit play, expecting nothing, and was pleasantly surprised.

The first big thing I noticed was The Asylum’s logo popping up on the screen. Turns out this television series is actually produced by Cinefessions’ favorite B-movie production company, The Asylum! I was quickly intrigued.

The first episode of Z Nation picks up two years after the zombie apocalypse has plagued the world. This is where we meet the soldier Hammond, played by one of my favorite actors from Lost, Harold Perrineau. Hammond is contacted by another in the military and informed of a new operative. He gets ready to leave, but doctor’s are quickly trying out a new drug on three unwilling civilians. They’re certain that two will turn into zombies, but one may outlive them all and be the cure to this zombie apocalypse. This scene ends as zombies overtake the room.

The episode picks up a year later – Year 3 A.Z. as it shows on the screen – and we meet up with a group of survivors. They come in contact with Hammond, who is trying to carry out his mission: bring the one civilian who survived a zombie bite to the nearest quarantine center. Hammond is willing to give his life to make this happen, and will make sure that the rest of the survivors will as well.

This is a really strong start to a zombie TV series. Though it lacks the polish of The Walking Dead, it more than makes up for it with the action. The special effects, though mostly CGI, are done surprisingly well. There is a scene that will surely turn some viewers with higher standards off, but if you can make it through the CGI baby, there looks to be a lot of promise in the future of Z Nation.

The characters are a colorful bunch, and I am genuinely interested to see where this world takes them as they try to deliver the “package” to the safe point. The cast is great, with DJ Qualls (The New Guy, Road Trip) playing Citizen Z, the disc jockey of the apocalypse. Tom Everett Scott (Dead Man on Campus, That Thing You Do!) plays the Rick Grimes type leader of the group, and it will be fun to see how he is able to lead since he is not a former police officer that is trained to handle bad situations. The cast as a whole seems solid, and there are a lot of familiar faces. I was even shocked by the first death in the series as I was certain this character would play a much larger role.

Z Nation is already better than 90% of the films I’ve seen from The Asylum, and I say that as someone who loves their output for the most part. Episode one did everything it needed to do to get me to tune in for the next episode, and I’m excited to see where this apocalypse takes us.

three_stars

Branden Chowen
Editor-in-Chief at Cinefessions

Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.