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In The Flesh Review: A Hard Knock Life for Zombies

Posted on June 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm by Justin Cavender

In the Flesh

Over the last few years, hordes of zombies have swarmed into our televisions, theaters, video games, and even novels. Some might argue they’ve had enough with the flesh eating scavengers, while others are far from satiated. There are countless survival horror stories where groups of people are just trying to make it through the night. Those tales can be gruesome, fun, and exciting all rolled into one rotten corpse. How would you feel about mixing things up a bit? What if I told you there was a series featuring zombies that were medically treated and reintroduced back into the human population?

In The Flesh is a three part mini-series airing on BBC America, that tells the story of zombie teen, Kieren Walker (Luke Newberry), who returns to his family after being treated for PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome). Unfortunately, his hometown of Roarton, is far from welcoming anyone that suffers from PDS. There is a radical militia known as the Human Volunteer Force (HVF), that defended Roarton during the zombie invasion. The HVF is lead by Bill Macy (Steve Evets) and supported by the local church. Both are unwilling to let go of the past, and are fueled by their hatred of zombies, labeling them, “rotters.” The HVF will do anything to protect their community, including killing innocent victims inflicted with PDS.

Kieren’s reintegration into his family and Roarton is a long and painful road. He is forced to hide from his neighbors, so his family won’t be targeted for harboring a rotter. His sister, Jem (Harriet Cains), is an active member of the HVF, and can’t stand to even look at him. Healing emotional wounds for the Walker family is slow and sometimes daunting. There are many phases to the healing process and they have a hard time getting passed the grief of losing Kieren. Even with his return, they still haven’t put his death behind them.

Heavy themes like tolerance, hate, fear, and even homophobia are laid out pretty thick in this zombie tale. I find it both interesting and heartbreaking to see just how cruel humans can be when dealing with change. Patients with PDS are given makeup and contact lenses to help conceal their identity and blend into society. No one should have to hide who they really are. I guess the real question is, what makes us human? I’m not certain, but I won’t be looking to the church of Roarton or the HVF for answers. That whole lot are a bunch of radical nutjobs.

In the Flesh is a clever and welcomed change to the zombie universe. There were a few moments when the story slowed down but it never came to a screeching halt. Perhaps if each episode were 5-7 minutes shorter, the tension might not have ever let up.


Follow Justin on Twitter, @Edgyarmo.

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