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‘Day 5’ emerges as Rooster Teeth’s sleeper hit of the summer

What would keep you awake if sleeping meant death?

Day 5 is Rooster Teeth's first live action dramatic series from the veteran online production company.

It follows Jake (Jesse C. Boyd), a drug addict whose habit saves him from the fatal epidemic that took most of the world in their sleep.

Jake is soon joined by Sam (Walker Satterwhite), a 13-year-old far more equipped than Jake to take on the schlafenpocalypse; Ally (Stephanie Drapeau), a night-shift doctor; and Ellis (Davi Jay), a red-eye pilot who may have found the key to solving the mystery.

Day 5 aired its first episode, "Waking Nightmare", on the Rooster Teeth site on June 19, almost four years after they did a short film of the same name in 2012.

"Waking Nightmare" establishes the haunting tone of the show without preamble through sweeping shots of empty highways and parks and the hilarious disgruntlement of Jake at having to come out of his drug pen.

But what really kickstarts the plot and reveals how high the stakes are is Jake finding the bodies of his family while a warning against sleep blares from the TV.

Clocking in at almost 45 minutes, Day 5 is a pitch perfect introduction to its singular, manic, end-of-the-world scenario.

Oversaturated color schemes and overbright lighting adds to the dissonance of dark humor and darker plot threads in every scene, whether it be pissing in a dead family's bathtub or high-speed car chases led by a tween.

Some forced jokes notwithstanding, the signature humor Rooster Teeth is known for is peppered throughout the script but never overshadows the gravity of its premise.

Boyd, Satterwhite, Drapeau, and Jay also managed to hook audiences in and, if not have them invested in their character's wellbeing, convince them of their authenticity.

Jake and Sam's bond in particular is gripping due to their circumstances and their interplay.

Jake is still shaken at finding his sister dead, as evidenced by a hallucinatory episode, while Sam's mysterious origin foreshadows an upheaval in the future.

Boyd and Satterwhite's easy chemistry also makes their banters believable and sells their characters' tragedies and flaws—Jake's aimlessness and Sam's vulnerability—without being heavy-handed or foreboding.

Day 5's pilot shows how right Rooster Teeth was to take its time with the project—and how far the company has gone.

According to an interview by iO9, the concept for Day 5 was initially conceived by Rooster Teeth co-founder Burnie Burns to curb the production costs of shooting a live-action apocalypse flick.

"If everyone died in their beds, you wouldn’t have to shoot stuff like barricades being overrun. So it was approached from a budgetary level from the very beginning but it’s such a relatable thing because everyone knows what it’s like to be this ridiculously tired," Flanagan explained.

After a few years, an acquisition by Fullscreen Inc., and a record-breaking crowdfunding-backed full-length sci-fi film, Day 5 was turned into a six-episode online series.

Its change in format, however, doesn't change its core: an intense, delirium-filled thrill ride influenced by horror, Breaking Bad, Y: The Last Man, and a host of pop culture elements.

The first episode of Day 5 is available to the public on the Rooster Teeth website.

To watch the rest of the series, viewers may sign up for a free 30-day sponsorship at the Rooster Teeth site.

Day 5 airs Sundays at 4 p.m. CT for Sponsors. —Rie Takumi/KG, GMA News