It’s been a good couple of weeks for big studios handing the reins of their genre adaptations to indie favorites: We previously reported on Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead being tapped to helm several episodes of Marvel’s upcoming Moon Knight show, and now THR is reporting that Kantemir Balagov—fresh off his critically acclaimed Cannes winner Beanpole—has been hired to serve as the pilot director for HBO’s TV version of video game favorite The Last Of Us.
It’s a shockingly apt choice, given the way both Beanpole and TLOU involve themselves in the messy effects of emotional intimacy in extreme circumstances. (Neither, for instance, has much good to say about the “healing” power of love, or the things it drives people to do.) The pilot—which is being written and produced by Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin, with original game director Neil Druckmann—will be the 29-year-old Balagov’s first English-language project; he previously directed 2017's prize-winning Closeness.
For the unfamiliar, The Last Of Us takes place 20 years into a zombie apocalypse, and sees bitter survivor Joel tasked with delivering a 14-year-old girl across a United States ravaged by disease, societal collapse, and good-old-fashioned human violence. You might be wondering: Do terrible, heart-breaking things happen on this journey, stretching the limits of human compassion and endurance? That’s a bingo, baby. Miserable times ahead.