Can You Watch ‘The Last of Us’ if You Don’t Like Horror?
Let me put it this way: Is water wet? Yes. But also ... no?
Asking if The Last of Us is scary is like asking if water is wet.
The answer is YES. But also … no?
So, according to science, water is not actually wet. Technically speaking, only things that come in contact with water get wet, as “wetness” is the ability of a liquid to stick to things. However, the common sense goblin inside my mind says, YES OF COURSE WATER IS WET. IT’S WATER. IT’S THE DEFINITION OF WET. If you jump in a lake, spoiler alert, YOU WILL GET WET. Just like E = mc2, water equals wet.
So is The Last of Us scary? You take a look at this fungal monstrosity and tell me. Yes, The Last of Us is super freaky. I mean just look at the real-life fungus that inspired the series. Nightmare fuel. Pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. And that’s not even the WORST The Last of Us has to offer.
Wait, it gets worse?!
In the words of Jean Paul Sartre, “hell is other people.” The Last of Us is no exception.
Most of us are not emotionally prepared to survive an apocalypse. No shame! The slow extinction of the human race at the hands of a mutated fungus is not something that you can ever be ready for. However, some people are more ready than others. You’ll need a strong disposition to live life at the end of the world. A strong disposition, and not a lot of empathy skills.
And there’s the problem.
An end of the world scenario is a perfect environment for the very worst members of the human race to survive and thrive. The sociopathic. The violent. The selfish. The cruel. The manipulative. The conniving. Every dating red flag present in the human psyche will be blowing freely in the breeze when the end of days comes. And the worst part is: no one is safe from it. Even “well-adjusted” characters like series protagonist Joel has to resort to some particularly brutal methods in order to survive the apocalypse. He has to kill people on the regular. Life in the dystopian remains of America is certainly not for the faint of heart, even if you’re watching the action through a TV screen from the comfort of your own home. There are killers, thieves, and rapists picking through the scraps of the nation, and in their minds, it’s them or you.
Some of them might even be cannibals …
But there’s a bright side
Here’s the thing about the world of The Last of Us: It is also overflowing with love.
It’s a story about a man who loses a daughter only to gain another. It’s a story about people who are every day learning to live instead of just survive. It’s a story about people who are trying to pass around the last dregs of the milk of human kindness. It’s a story about hope. It’s a story about forgiveness. It’s a story about perseverance. It’s a story about the ever-burning fire of the human spirit that simply refuses to go out even when surrounded by darkness. In The Last of Us, the weight of the world is love.
So yes, The Last of Us is scary, but only because it is an unflinching look at every aspect of the human experience. In this world, people beat people to death with their bare fists. People also giggle with glee after eating strawberries for the first time in 10 years, since the world went dark.
The Last of Us is horrifying, but it is not of the horror genre. In horror, the fate of the characters is sealed. Everyone is doomed to suffer and die, and evil is predestined to win. True horror movies unfold like Shakespearean tragedy. We know that Romeo and Juliet are doomed to die, but we hope that maybe this time they’ll make it out alright.
The Last of Us is not a horror story. It’s not even a tragedy, really. It’s a love song. Everything that the main characters in The Last of Us do, they do out of love. Paternal love. Romantic love. Love of humanity as a whole. And we all know that when we feel love, we also feel fear. Because when we have something to love, we also have something to lose.
(featured image: HBO)
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