Over the years, there’s been several amazing contributions to the sub genre of post- apocalyptic cinema. With the release of HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’, let’s take a deep dive into what makes this genre so interesting, and why audiences keep coming back for more.
The idea of an apocalypse has always been interesting for audiences, we’re no stranger to zombie films/series, with ‘The Walking Dead’, ‘28 Days Later’, ‘Dawn of the Dead’, and so much more. The concept of surviving in a world where everything has turned on its head, and humans have to adapt and survive in an environment that is no longer predictable is a horrifying one, but also very gripping.
Now that we’ve gone through a worldwide viral pandemic, this idea was at the center of many people’s minds. While the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere near as extreme as a zombie outbreak, the day to day confusion and paranoia that stems from such an event is something that many can now relate to. Not only that, but also the loss that comes from something that you can’t understand. Now that we’ve gone through one pandemic, it's not hard to wonder what could happen next, and how things can potentially get worse.
Post-apocalyptic cinema is the perfect medium to convey the most horrifying aspects of our human society. One idea being that we all know that bad things are coming, but we pretend like they’ll never come knocking at our door. We see this with our handling of climate change, and in many governments at the beginning of the pandemic. There’s also the idea of how we rebuild, and find a sense of normalcy after the chaos.
Through these heightened reality reflections of what could very well be our own future, allows for so many interesting narratives and character relationships that show what humans need at their very core. Love. It’s through loss and when our hearts are absolutely shattered that are the truest displays of our affection for others. When things get bad it's each other that gets us through it, but when those people are no longer there; that’s what fuels the anger and passion to change around a horrible situation.
One thing that I’ve always loved in post-apocalyptic media is when the moment the outbreak happens, the meteor hits, or the monster arrives, the mass paranoia that directly happens afterwards. ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ and episode 1 of ‘The Last Of Us’, have perfect examples of this. Both projects have expertly directed sequences of sheer chaos once something happens that upsets the established order of day to day life. People are driving into one another, planes are crashing, buildings are set ablaze, clusters of people are running in every direction trying to escape the unknown. It's the sense of urgency that these scenes create that set up these projects so well, and allow for some very interesting conversations about whether or not we should put ourselves first without helping our fellow man when things become unforeseeable, and volatile. It's also reasonable to consider how prepared we are as a society should something like what we’re watching happen in our reality.
Despite having so many zombie outbreak, and post-apocalyptic media out there, there’s so many people with pure, raw talent that find new ways to be inventive and expand on the concept in ways that are strikingly emotional, and relentlessly entertaining. Given our new chapter of history that came in the form of the COVID-19 pandemic, the craving for these types of stories have never been greater, and luckily artists like Craig Mazin, John Krasinski, and Neil Druckmann are here to satisfy, and we’ll be along for the ride.