By Andy Chandler
Zombies, Walkers or the Undead, however you chose to describe our recently resurrected friends, there’s simply no escaping them at the moment.
The world of TV and film is as addicted to to Zombies as they are to brains and flesh, but you’ll hear no complaints from me. I’ve been a fan of undead tales since Resident Evil first burst onto the PlayStation way back in 1996.
I’ll admit though; I’d kind of had my fill of Zombies as of late, I blame the perennially slow and bloated The Walking Dead for my current apathy towards undead dramas. It’s drawn out storylines and constant back-tracking and time hopping wore thin for me and I opted out before Negan turned up and, according to some, the show got better.
After giving up on TWD, I wanted something fresh and different, I do enjoy a good zombie-story afterall so, after trawling through Netflix for what seemed like a week, I stumbled across a trailer for something a little different.
Santa Clarita Diet is the antithesis of The Walking Dead, gone are the post apocalyptic adventures of a group of people fighting to survive, in its stead you get the suburban struggles of Joel and Sheila Hammond, married estate agents from the trendy Santa Clarita neighbourhood in California. Joel and Sheila are played to perfection by Timothy Olyphant and Drew Barrymore.
That pairing caught me totally by surprise, I genuinely didn’t think of Olyphant as a comedic actor, I’ve seen him more as an action hardman/sidekick in films like Hitman and Gone in 60 seconds, so I was really blown away by the acting and comedic chops on him. Drew Barrymore plays Sheila with a kind of calm, maternal madness that subtley ticks over behind the more manic and beguiled Joel as crazy events unfold around this seemingly perfect couple.
The craziness being that, quite unexpectedly, while trying to sell a house, Sheila starts throwing up insane amounts of bright yellow liquid and what appears to be an organ. After some hospital checks and a quick escape it becomes apparent that Sheila is a zombie now. This doesn’t mean she becomes some shambolic carcass, oh no, she’s her only now she needs to eat human flesh and bits start to fall off. Not only do Joel and Sheila have this bizarre turn of events to deal with but they also have a teenage daughter called Abby (Liv Hewson) who they have to try and protect from the world of murder and gore now infront of them.
It’s crammed full of two things; genuine belly laughs and gore. It’s a bloody mess, without doubt, Sheila has a hunger that can only be sated by killing and eating human flesh and the laughs come from the hilarious ways that Joel and Sheila go about choosing a victim, offing them and then trying to sneak them back into their suburban home so that Sheila can gorge herself. All the while trying to carry on the visage of a normal, respectable suburban family.
Neighbours soon start to suspect something, matters start to escalate and the Hammonds become obsessed with trying to cure Sheila of her terrible undead affliction. The series flies by at such a pace, there isn’t much time to hang around or get bored of this fresh, funny and inventive take on the zombie show, the first series is only ten 30 minute episodes, so you do go comfortably from one plotpoint to another with no hanging around or footdragging.
The gore may put some people off, after 5 or so series of The Walking Dead gore isn’t a factor for me, maybe I’ve become desensitised to it, but in a show about the undead; what do you expect?
So yeah, if you are of a weaker constitution then Santa Clarita Diet isn’t for you, sorry. But if you can stomach some blood and guts, you’ll find a hilarious and fresh take on the undead that’s crammed with heart, silliness and some genuine belly laughs.