The nightmare-inducing fungus that turns humans into crazed zombies in The Last of Us is actually a real thing, which should help you to sleep easy tonight. Here’s the trailer for HBO’s epic video game adaptation, in case you’ve not already started it.
So far, it seems as if HBO’s take on the horror-drama video game series The Last of Us is off to a good start, with loads of people chiming in to praise the show in general, but also the performances of stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.
The premise of the show - and the games, as it happens - is pretty simple.
There’s a fungus that has managed to somehow infect the human population of the world, turning people into terrifying zombie-like creatures that attack everything they see.
Battle-hardened survivor Joel (Pascal) has to get Ellie (Ramsey) to safety, as she is one of the few people who is immune to infection and therefore stands chance of ending the pandemic.
Luckily for us - we know a thing about pandemics, don’t we? - the man behind the show also claims that the threat from the fungus, which actually exists, is ‘real’.
It’s called cordyceps and at the minute it only affects ants and other small insect-type creatures, somehow controlling them and bending them to its will, but it is very much a real thing.
This type of fungus, unlike others, deals in things that are living rather than dead, flooding the brains of the ants with chemicals and taking over muscles to get them to the perfect place for it to grow before spreading spores to control more ants.
It doesn’t affect the ants brains, but it’s still pretty terrifying.
Craig Mazin, the showrunner who also brought us the equally uplifting Chernobyl, recently explained to the Hollywood Reporter: "It's real — it's real to the extent that everything he says that fungus do, they do,
"And they currently do it and have been doing it forever.
“There are some remarkable documentaries that you can watch that are quite terrifying."
Referencing a flashback warning from a scientist at the beginning of the TV show, which suggested that the fungus could infect humans, he added: "Now his warning — what if they evolve and get into us? — from a purely scientific point of view, would they do exactly to us what they do to ants? I don't think so. I doubt it. On the other hand, he's right — LSD and psilocybin do come from fungus.
"What I told John [Hannah] was, 'What we're doing in this scene is telling people this has always been here.'"
The show has received rave reviews from critics and fans alike since premiering on Sunday and Monday around the world, and you can catch the next episode on Sky Atlantic and Now TV from next Monday at 9:00pm, unless you want to stay up until 2:00am on the Sunday to watch it at the same time as the USA.
Either way, you’ll sleep like a baby tonight knowing that the fungus that caused the whole thing is actually out there, even though it’s unlikely that it’ll ever get into our heads.
Well, more than it is already there now.