I’ve given up on certain movie genres: superheroes and zombies leave me cold. The Walking Dead killed zombies for me — just drove them right into the ground — and the coup de grâce was that terrible Zack Snyder (sorry, the adjective is redundant) zombie mess. It would take a lot to get me to turn on a zombie movie anymore, even though they’ve become ubiquitous.
Then people were raving about this new zombie movie based on a video game (that’s really the kiss of death right there), The Last of Us. I sort of half-watched the first couple of episodes this weekend. It starts off with a pedestrian zombie plot, the twist being that it’s a fungal infection based on Cordyceps, and then it makes it clear that the overall story is about a girl who has a natural resistance to the fungus, and is the key to saving humanity.
Then the third episode rolled, and was effectively distracting me from my work. Dang it, that’s a love story, a very human love story, and it was beautifully done.
It wasn’t at all what I expected from a zombie-video-game movie, and now I’m all confused. I’m going to have to watch the next episode on Sunday night. Will it collapse into the usual kill-the-humanoid-monster story, or is it going to keep going with human-centered tales of love and struggle? No spoilers, please. I haven’t played the video game, some of you may have.
Has there ever been a zombie tidy? They do tend not to be the cleanest critters fantastically speaking..
(Twilight / Zombie romance / horror crossover with sparkles anyone?)
HBO productions seeming tend better than the median for TV/streaming productions, and Bella Ramsey seemed excellent in her Game of Thrones role; however, I’m not a fan of the horror genre, so I’ll probably continue to skip it.
Hmm, when was the last time I watched a Zombie movie? Might be when I was a teenager and a friend of mine was obsessed with all the gory stuff and made me watch a number of Zombie and splatter movies – enough to last me a lifetime.
I’m currently rereading my way through the collected stories of M.R. James. Much more interesting to me than a horde of shambling humanoids with bits falling of. ;-)
Game critics talk about The Last Of Us so much, that I basically already know how it goes, despite never playing it. Without spoilers, it has a lot of human element, so you might like it. Personally, I stay away because of the zombies and shooty stuff. I don’t care about the human element, I’d rather find that in a genre I could actually stand.
I, too, burnt out on zombies, although it required about seven seasons of Walking Dead, four seasons of Fear The Walking Dead, and a couple of movies (Zombieland, World War Z). So I really had no plans to watch The Last of Us. Then I read that an episode of the latter featured an old song by Linda Ronstadt, “Long, Long Time,” which resulted in a flurry of searches online, her name trending on Twitter, and a nearly 5000% increase in plays on Spotify overnight.
I’m in favor of that.
I would recommend you watch “28 Days Later”- everyone thinks it is a zombie film, but it is a very clever film version of The Day Of The Triffids. They have just replaced a silly plot device with something quite plausible.
If you do not like the horror genre – and I do not blame you- there are some decent horror comedies out there. Worlds End, Shaun of the Dead, Grabbers and the German The Killer Condom (a synthetic life form camouflaged as a condom).
Season after season of someone not shooting The Governor in the head. That’s what killed The Walking Dead.
Akira MacKenzie says
I was never into zombie survival horror myself. I was always more of a cosmic horror fan.
Speaking as someone who’s played The Last Of Us game through four times, it’s a very good game that appeals to me well. I also know the story like the back of my hand, which has made watching the first couple of episodes of the TV show both enjoyable and annoying. But more enjoyable than annoying.
Part of what makes the game so good is a huge amount of interaction between characters in the game as you’re exploring the environment, and how the characters work together (or against each other) in the combat sequences.
The TV series is required to compress character interaction and story from a 16-25 hour long game down into less than 10 hours.
This requires the series producers to squeeze sections of the game that would be 30-60 minutes (or longer) down to a 5 or 10 minute scene, and strip out some sections entirely. Spending 30 minutes sneaking through an underground tunnel trying to hunt down a dozen clickers and enjoying a bunch of chatter between characters might be fun in game, but it would be painful to watch in a TV show.
It also has the side effect of reducing the amount of sympathy felt for the characters and the impact of the story. Clickers don’t seem as terrifying when passively watching the show versus when you’re playing the game and for all intents and purposes, it’s YOU the clickers are hunting down.
My spoiler-free review: I’ve found the first couple of episodes to be good. They’ve captured some of what makes the game great, but I don’t feel as drawn into the story as when I played the game.YMMV.
@7 Oh yeah, still enjoyed Shaun of the Dead despite not liking zombies. “Kondom des Grauens” I know only from the comics, also recommended.
Back in the 90s even when the movie version of The Killer Condom was in the theatres, some prosecutor here in Germany actually had the comic confiscated from bookstores because of it’s pornographic elements, trying to have it “indiziert” so it could not be sold to minors and openly advertised. He also had posters for Art Spiegelman’s Maus confiscated, because they showed swastikas…
In court nothing came of it and the material was returned, but he managed to drive the publisher of the German version of Métal hurlant/Heavy Metal into bankruptcy with his crusade.
@9 Oh yeah, cosmic horror is more my thing too. Lovecraft is still one of my favourite authors, despite his racism.
Have you read Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows”? Big inspiration for Lovecraft, I believe and easily as good as his best stories. Or Machen’s “The White People”?
consciousness razor says
It was only from s3e3 until s4e8, about one season (plus tax), but you make it sound like he’s Negan or something.
Now, Rick not dying around s1e1, if not before, that is rather hard to believe.
I never liked the zombie genre at all so I shall give this a pass too. I tend not to like horror themes at all since I turned about 25 for some reason.
Peter Bollwerk says
You could argue that nearly everything in TV, movies, books is all recycled stories, to some degree. Once you strip stories down to the basics, it’s almost always common themes about humanity.
For me, I don’t care about the “window dressing” (e.g. zombies, etc) … what matters to me is the quality of the writing. ANY subject can be good or bad, depending on the writing. Good writing makes you care about the characters, regardless of the setting.
The Last of Us game, which I haven’t (yet) played, is widely regarded as one of the best written stories in any game, ever.
So far, the TV show seems to also be very well written. I’m cautiously optimistic.
Peter Bollwerk says
FWIW, I enjoyed the first season of the Walking Dead, then it slowly went downhill from there and I stopped watching after a couple more seasons.
As for zombie themed media, Train to Busan is still my favorite.
Alex Samaras says
Key thing to remember about The Last of Us: the plot is not the story. Sure, the plot is yet another zombie apocalypse and an immune survivor is the key to a cure. But that is absolutely not the story of The Last of Us. The story is the characters & their relationships and how they evolve and change. It may very well go in a direction that you expect.
As someone who is generally a fan of zombie stuff, but who got bored with The Walking Dead because it felt like a soap opera but with zombies, The Last of Us is outstanding, both as a game and as a show. I would heartily recommend that anyone who doesn’t like zombie stuff watch it anyway, because it is so much more than the plot. ;)
drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says
What do vegan zombies eat?
Sorry, I’ll show myself out…
bcw bcw says
I would like to recommend a British zombie series now on Hulu called “In the Flesh.” The premise is that a drug cure is found for the undead that restores normal thinking. This then leads to all the complicated social problems of integrating the dead into society given their history, resentment, second class status, zombie killer warrior family members, fear of them going off their medication and bizarre conspiracy theories of their origin and meaning.
bcw bcw says
And Shaun of the Dead is pretty funny.
Thanks. You mentioned what I completely forgot to say earlier.
There’s zombies, but the entire point of The Last Of Us isn’t just about “killing all zombies” or even “survival”. There’s a reason why it’s often referred to as one of the greatest video games of all time, instead of titles like Dead Island or Days Gone.
I’m trying really hard to avoid spoilers, but TLOU is about the journey, even if you (think you) know where the story is going.
Also, the voice acting in the game is incredibly well done. Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson did an amazing job as the lead characters. I was sad to find out this morning that Annie Wersching, the voice actor for Tess in the game passed away on Jan 29, at the age of 45.
Rob Grigjanis says
Lyanna Mormont was one of my favourite characters. She died killing a zombie giant.
John Small Berries says
I’ll second bcw bcw‘s recommendation of In the Flesh, and also mention that it’s an excellent blend of drama and dark comedy.
I loathe zombie movies/shows, but it was so different from the usual “protagonists fight/flee mindless shambling hordes” plot that I loved it.
(For one thing, the protagonist is a
zombiePartially Decreased Syndrome sufferer.)
John Small Berries says
Deceased, not Decreased. Dang autocorrect.
@ drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon, # 19: “The Night of the Living Bread!”
It was, truly, a beautiful and human love story.
TLoU1 showed games can have the same emotional impact as the very best movies. TLoU2 showed it can happen twice!
If you can only two games to play in the last 15yrs, it’s those two.
And if you didn’t know, TLoU2 is the game the incels & “manosphere“ lost their collective minds over. It has gasp gay people existing, and women militia members with muscles!
Oh, and it’s not really a zombie movie like the walking dead, it’s more in the background, setting up the survival situation. The main theme of the first game is, no matter how horrible or horrific the thing Mother Nature throws at us, it’s never worse than what humans do to other humans.
TLoU2 was about the pointlessness of vengeance. And makes a big statement about movies, shows, games and general culture that are “bad guys bad so I can kill them without remorse”. I’ve never played a shooter that ended up making me regret every kill, it’s amazing story telling (I don’t want to spoil anything).
drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says
noice… can’t top that one. I was trying to find a yeast joke.
I’m not a huge zombie, gamer, or scripted TV fan, I guess, but this one seems worth checking out. Thanks all y’all for the tip.
drewl, Mental Toss Flycoon says
(I’m only a medium sized zombie)
My stepson warned me a lot better than you did, when he said this episode brought him to tears. So now it’s my turn. You can read “The Girl with all the Gifts” or you can listen to it on Audible. Tell me what you think, if you please.
“The main theme of the first game is, no matter how horrible or horrific the thing Mother Nature throws at us, it’s never worse than what humans do to other humans.”
I actually hate this trope with a passion. It’s a big part of what kills all zombie/apocalypse and similar genres for me. IMHO, it doesn’t hold true in reality. Horrible things like Alzheimer’s disease, prion diseases, cancer, the black death, etc. produce far more suffering and torment than any mere human can produce.
In order to try to justify this trope against a worldwide apocalyptic plague, you have to invent increasing cartoonish and absurd villains and/or a populace that would just accept them. It’s quite boring IMO.
I’m sad you say that The Last of Us goes down this banal path.
I much prefer stories that are centered around humanity facing bad things and overcoming them.