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Zombieverse:< Is It Possible To Make a Good Reality Show Set in the Zombie Apocalypse? Apparently Not.

Zombieverse, currently on Netflix, is a recent import from Korea – like so many terrific zombie movies and series – that’s all high concept and crappy execution. You can just about hear the pitch meeting in your head: “Two words, boss: reality show and zombie apocalypse. Boom!”

It’s not that the concept hasn’t been tried before. Charlie Brooker, who would go on to the glory that is Black Mirror, did it back in 2008 with Dead Set, a UK series that used the actual set (at the time) of the British version of Big Brother. (Sadly, Dead Set isn’t currently available for streaming or sale). A few years later, Brazilian TV did its own version of the same concept, Reality Z, which is available on Netflix, though not for sale. And even that wasn’t the first. Long before Dead Set, there was a now-nearly-forgotten five-part British series called I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse that riffed on the same premise.

But Zombieverse just doesn’t work. Here are just a few reasons why…

The contestants are difficult to tell apart. Casting real live B- or C-grade reality stars from other Korean reality shows may have made sense in Seoul, but they are unknowns here in the States. They are all roughly the same age and appearance, they are not well-differentiated in voice, dress, or behavior. Generally they behave more like a mob than a cast of characters.

It’s never clear if the ‘contestants’ are in on the joke. Is this a reality show that’s ‘really’ taking place during an outbreak? Then why are we seeing game segments, challenges, and goals? And if it’s just (unfamiliar) semi-stars in a simulated zompoc, why are they acting as if this is all ‘real’ and people are dying? Which leads to the third problem.

Nobody dies. In fact, none of the graphic eat-’em-up violence that’s essential to the genre is on display at all. No one gets eaten. No one even bleeds. The zombies are ut grasp and groan; they’re more an annoyance or props on a not-so-elaborate obstacle course than deadites.

There are no consistent zombie rules. Is it a virus? Are you infected by a bite? Do you come back to unlife if killed? With the lack of graphic violence, we don’t see transformations or ‘good kills’ at all.

The dubbing is awful. Dubbing has become something of an art form in recent years; often, it’s so good – excellent lip-synching, sound mixing that includes a ‘sense of place,’ and skillful vocal acting – that it’s easy to forget the actors were actually speaking anything other than English. In comparison, Zombieverse is jumbled, shrill and damn difficult to follow.

All in all, Zombieverse sounds like a cool idea up front, but almost immediately evolves into a not-so-bloody mess. It’s more than simply confusing or poorly acted. It’s just boring.


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