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Fear the Walking Dead Pilot

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Fear the Walking Dead Pilot Review

“The Walking Dead” is one of the greatest television shows ever crafted; that’s more than just an opinion, it’s becoming more factual with each record shattering season that premieres as more and more people are getting voraciously consumed about a show where zombies dominate the planet and humans struggle to keep their skin and sanity in one piece. But for all the show’s impressive storytelling, one area of this zombie apocalypse has never been explained or explored: how it all started. Zombie films in general have rarely given a cause or direct reason for why the zombie virus exists, and the creators of “Walking Dead” stated a number of times they have no desire to give a true explanation on where this zombie plague came from.

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However, fans of the show get a compromise of sorts with a new, 6 episode prequel series that explains how the world slowly transformed into the way it’s seen in “Walking Dead” with the series “Fear the Walking Dead.” Is it anywhere near the morbid masterpiece the original series is, are the questions being answered worth the effort? Let’s aim for the head and find out as I take a look at “Fear the Walking Dead.” It all starts with a junkie named Nick Clark (Frank Dillane), he wakes up in a drug house, surrounded by (what he thinks) are passed out junkies. When one of them suddenly turns cannibal, Nick flees and is struck by a car; winding up in a hospital and being chastised/cared for by his family. Unfortunately, due to his drug history; nobody believes Nick’s story about a girl eating other people like a wild animal.

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Slowly but surely however, people call in sick more often and stop coming to school/work. Nick’s family is slowly realizing that the world as they know it is ending soon and no one will realize the severity of the situation until it’s too late. Although this show is the companion piece to its big successful, older brother series; it would be unfair to compare these series as the same. “Fear” is one long build up to a dark truth we already know is coming, were like the one pimply faced kid who wants to hang onto his switchblade in class: we know what’s going to happen and it’s not going to be pretty. There’s a lot of focus on the growing dread and anticipation for when the undead shit hits the fan, things are building up rather than slowing to a crawl (Like with Rick’s first encounter with zombies in the first series pilot).

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The idea that the first person who knows the truth is a drugged out teenager is brilliant. He tries to warn everyone, but knows he won’t be believed because of what he’s done rather than what he’s seen. It adds to the bubbling dread that fills the air, everything feels like there’s a shadowy figure looming over everyday situations like going to school, heading to work or going to see your boyfriend/girlfriend. Usually this kind of expanding panic is covered within the first 6 minutes of your local zombie horror film, so it’ll be interesting to see if this momentum can be carried over 5 more hour long episodes. The one thing that definitely feels substandard is the lack of attention grabbing chills that Walking Dead’s first episode did so incredibly well.

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We got a bit of screen time with Rick and Shane before Rick ends up being the luckiest comatose patient in the world, and the dead start shambling towards us. Here, were thrown right into walker territory before we even get to know whose life is forever changed by such a disturbing encounter. It feels more like direct shock value rather than a slow burn/build up then I expected, of course, this is still JUST the first episode. Overall, “Fear the Walking Dead” has more going in its favor then against it; I’m impressed with the continuous doomsday vibe it’s got going and having it’s male lead be the last person you’d want to hear “the world is ending” from. It’s got some bugs I hope they squash before the series gets into its full, zombie swarming swing, but was it good enough to warrant continued investment? For now, yes…yes it does!

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– Rob Jefchak

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