Santa Clarita Diet: So Then a Bat or a Monkey – You Are (Review)

Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet

Netflix have joined the zombie craze with their latest offering, Santa Clarita Diet. The first episode, “So Then a Bat or a Monkey” starts things off with a major character dying by throwing up what looks suspiciously like an organ. A vital one mixed with the “insane” amount of vomit that comes jetting out of Sheila’s mouth.

Sheila and Joel Hammond are estate agents who live and sell houses in Santa Clarita, CA.  Their seemingly idyll existence is disrupted when she dies in the middle of showing the Peterson house. After spending hours at the local hospital’s emergency room, Sheila and Joel head home.

Despite being dead, Sheila feels great. She has focus and is, in Joel’s words, exuberant. Their teenage daughter Abby is not overjoyed to learn of her parent’s sexual escapades and suggests seeing a local “nerd” to find out what is happening.

The new real estate agent from Sacramento Gary West makes moves on Sheila and ends up being consumed by his recently deceased co-worker in the back garden. Joel walks in on the grisly scene and is justifiably horrified.

Santa Clarita Diet is an interesting, and funny, comedy horror offering on Netflix. Is it blazingly original? Not necessarily, iZombie got there first, although so far Sheila is not craving brains and eating West did not change her.

In many ways this new series could be seen as “iZombie with grownups.” The idea also seems to be a comic re-imaging of  the 2006 horror film “The Hamiltons.” (Or at the very least a comic riff on the theme of the film.)

In Santa Clarita Diet both Sheila and Joel, in the beginning, are quite boring in their little real estate lives. (And nothing equates to being a grownup quite like boring…) The sudden death of Sheila changes the formulaic existence of the couple dramatically.

Joel’s wife becomes more exuberant, as he tells their daughter, not just with sex but everything. She is more confident, assertive and impulsive. Her husband has trouble keeping up with the new Sheila. After she kills and eats Gary, it looks like Joel’s problems are just beginning.

It was interesting to see Nathan Fillion as a character who is, to say the least, a bit of a bully. He forces himself on Sheila and threatens, somewhat inanely, Joel: “You are.” One wonders whether his casting was in response to the “Castle” rumors that flooded the Internet when the show was cancelled.

(Fillion was said to be very unkind to his co-star Stana Katic and his cryptic and somewhat taciturn Twitter post when she left the show did not help his tarnished image.)

The character being played by Fillion was a deviation from his normal roles, apart from Monsters University in 2013. He voiced a character that was also a bully. In this instance Fillion managed to make his douche character amusing, which is his gift as an actor.

“That was an insane amount of vomit!”

Regardless of the rationale behind Nathan’s playing a somewhat dislikable character, it was brilliantly funny. (Showing yet again that Fillion has still got those comic chops that he displayed early in his career.)

Fillion was not alone, this series is full of comic performers who have got chops for days. Barrymore, Olyphant, Mary Elizabeth Ellis (a personal favorite) and guest star Ramona Young filled out a cast full of actors who know how to do comedy.

This 13 episode series is available to stream or download in its entirety on Netflix. Stop by and check this one out, it may not be overly original but it is pretty funny. It also has a lot of familiar faces in it.


Guest starring Nathan Fillion as Gary West and Ramona Young as Ramona.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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