Published September 6, 2022 by Skyhorse A scientific discovery of witches in fiction—Chilled Adventures of Sabrina, Sleeping Beauty, Wicked ...

Guest Post || The Horror and Humanity of The Last of Us By Kelly Florence

Published September 6, 2022 by Skyhorse

A scientific discovery of witches in fiction—Chilled Adventures of Sabrina, Sleeping Beauty, Wicked and so many more!

Kelly Florence and Meg Hafdahl, authors of The Science of Women in Horror and co-hosts of the Horror Rewind podcast called “the best horror film podcast out there” by Film Daddy, present a guide to the history of witchcraft through the stories and characters we all know and love. Reveal the spellbinding science behind the legends and lore surrounding fiction’s most iconic witches, answering such questions as:
What is the science behind divination and spellcraft?
When did witchcraft begin to show up in literature and media?
Has science made it possible to uncover the truth behind the powers of necromancy and employing familiars?
How has witchcraft been thought of throughout the world?

Through interviews, film and literary analysis, and bone-chilling discoveries, join Kelly and Meg as they learn about the complicated and rich science of witchcraft throughout the centuries and discover why now is the season of the witch!

The Horror and Humanity of The Last of Us

By Kelly Florence

HBO’s latest hit, The Last of Us (2023-), based on the video game by the same name, has taken the world by storm. On Sunday, January 29th the third episode of the series premiered and became the social media buzz and water cooler talk of the week. How could a post-apocalyptic show about mushroom zombies cause so many people to openly weep? Acclaimed horror writer and director Mike Flanagan even declared it to be “one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen.” This earnest and beautiful hour of television explores not only how life changes after an outbreak that infects the world but also how love, and the things we fight for, matter throughout our time on this Earth.

Light spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched the series! The videogame “The Last of Us” was released in 2013 and follows the characters Joel and Ellie as they navigate their way through the United States which has been overrun by “the Infected.” HBO’s version deviates from the game by exploring stories and perspectives that broaden the world and emotional understanding of the characters. “One More Good Day,” the third episode of the series, focuses on two men Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett), and their relationship over a period of years. Creator Craig Mazin said, “I think the Bill and Frank relationship ultimately functioned as this interesting, thematic core where you can see every relationship between two people in the show…It keeps circling what it means to be somebody that loves outward and somebody who loves inward, what it means to protect and what it means to risk. It just felt like it was a good chance to do that stuff and to do it in a place where we wouldn’t be breaking anything from the game. It just felt safe.” 2 

In the study of communications, we often discuss the different types of love that exist and how we show that love to others. Gary Chapman coined and wrote about “The Five Love Languages” in his 1992 book by the same name after working as a marriage counselor for over twenty years. Relationship experts have been using this system of understanding love to help couples better communicate and understand one another. The five love languages are words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch. According to Chapman, we each like to show our love for others in a specific way and we prefer to receive our love from others in one of these love languages. It’s important to note that they may be different. For example, you may like to receive gifts, but you would rather show your love through words of affirmation. Your partner may prefer receiving love by spending quality time with you while you would like to have physical touch to feel loved and appreciated. Understanding these facets about ourselves and others helps us to strengthen our relationships and become better communicators. 

Bill and Frank’s love languages become apparent throughout the episode in a variety of touching moments I won’t spoil for you here! The actors’ sincere portrayals, the writer’s heartbreaking dialogue, the beautiful direction, and the haunting score all culminate to become one of my favorite episodes of television ever and I, too, was a sobbing wreck by the conclusion! This proves that the genre of horror can have an impact on us as readers and viewers far more than some people imagine. Horror can induce empathy, show complicated and rich relationships, and have us experience worlds and circumstances we didn’t think possible. After hearing others talk about their reactions to this episode during the week, it seems many of us came to the same conclusion: spend time with the ones you love. Show them that you care. Tell them that you love them. We don’t know how much time we’ll have with the ones that matter most to us so it’s important to act now before it’s too late. And don’t forget to watch more in the horror genre, too!

1 Flanagan, Mike. (January 29, 2023) “#TheLastofUsHBO.” 

2 Dyer, James. (January 30, 2023) “The Last of Us: Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann on How Episode 3 Explores ‘What it Means to Protect, and What it Means to Risk.’” Empire.

Kelly Florence teaches communication at Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN and is the creator of the Be a Better Communicator podcast. She received her BA in theatre from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and her MA in communicating arts from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. She has written, directed, produced, choreographed, and stage managed for dozens of productions in Minnesota including Carrie: The Musical through Rubber Chicken Theatre and Treasure Island for Wise Fool Theater. She is passionate about female representation in all media and particularly the horror genre.
She is the co-author of The Science of Monsters, The Science of Women in Horror, The Science of Stephen King, The Science of Serial Killers, and The Science of Witchcraft with Meg Hafdahl. They co-host the Horror Rewind podcast and write and produce horror projects together. Kelly is repped by Stacey Kondla (Literary Agent) at The Rights Factory and Karmen Wells (TV/Film Agent) at The Rights Factory.

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