Review by Brian Lowry, CNN
Updated: Fri, 15 Oct 2021 12:05:12 GMT
For anyone who watched "I Know What You Did Last Summer" or "Night of the Living Dead" and thought, "I wish that movie was four times longer," Amazon and Syfy have series for you, because it's that time of year for scary shows, and as things currently stand in TV/streaming, anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
Shot in Hawaii, "I Know What You Did" adapts Lois Duncan's 1970s novel (and later 1997 movie) for the "Gossip Girl" generation, with an attractive and diverse cast of 20-somethings playing teenagers, whose complicated hook-up history adds several wrinkles to the slow-rolling crisis.
The action hinges on a fatal car accident on graduation night -- these movies don't do much for the reputation of teen drivers -- before strange and grisly signs start to emerge suggesting that nobody should become too attached to the characters. When someone mentions going to the cops, one member of the group shoots back, "We should have gone to the police a year ago," but in horror, hindsight is always 20/20.
"Jumanji's" Madison Iseman has the most demanding role by playing very different twins, joined by an ensemble that consists of Bill Heck, Brianne Tju, Ezekiel Goodman, Ashley Moore, Sebastian Amoruso, Fiona Rene, Cassie Beck, and Brooke Bloom.
Amazon will kick off the series with four episodes, which is as much as critics have seen, with four more to follow over subsequent weeks.
Like "Gossip Girl," every teen-driven concept seems destined for a reboot to reach new generations, but stretching out a concept this familiar almost feels like an endless "Summer." If you're discriminating at all, in other words, I don't know for certain but have a pretty good idea of what you won't be watching this fall.
"Day of the Dead," meanwhile, is described as "an ode" to George A. Romero's zombie movies of yore, throwing together a small group trying to survive the early stages of the outbreak. Syfy dutifully provided all 10 episodes, but it only took watching a few to decide that the world really doesn't need another zombie show right now, even with "The Walking Dead" (slowly) lurching toward its conclusion.
If you're still reading, the action takes place in a small town, where something appears to have been unleashed at the local mine, and a mix of teens and adults try to survive what they're reluctant to call a "zombie apocalypse." Various soapy subplots augment the ample gore, but let's face it, with this kind of commodity, nobody is sticking around to see if the mayor finds out that her husband's cheating on her.
Mostly, the premieres of these shows -- and USA/Syfy's recently launched "Chucky" series -- offer a helpful reminder: whether it's serial killers or slavering zombies, Hollywood never really gets tired of chewing up and spitting out old ideas.
"I Know What You Did Last Summer" premieres Oct. 15 on Amazon.
"Day of the Dead" premieres Oct. 15 at 10 p.m. ET on Syfy.