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The Walking Dead Finally Remembers It's A Horror Show

Warning: The following contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 11 episode 3, "Hunted." 

The Walking Dead has once again remembered its horror genre roots. In its final season, the post-apocalyptic series is embracing the horror and thrills that made The Walking Dead so popular in the first place. The survivors are facing obstacles on all sides; while the threat of the Commonwealth looms ever closer, Alexandria is facing starvation, and the gang that decimated Meridian is beginning to close in on the group's trail. With all this happening at once, there is plenty abound to keep viewers on the edges of their seats.

With Alexandria's supplies dwindling, a party — featuring Maggie, Negan, Gabriel, and Daryl — were sent out to acquire resources for the community. Their hunt leads them down into the depths of the Washington D.C. Metro, which has become inundated with the dead. The group narrowly escaped the tunnels, losing Gage to a gruesome death inside a walker-filled train car. Upon leaving the tunnels at the end of Walking Dead season 11 episode 2, "Acheron: Part II," they are greeted with an eerie street lined with bodies strung up by their ankles. It's on this horrific lane they are ambushed by the masked Reapers, scattering them into the woods as they run for cover.

Related: How The Walking Dead Subtly Pays Tribute To Glenn In Season 11

"Hunted" is a prime example of the horror at the heart of The Walking Dead. The lighting and camera work during the Reaper ambush at the beginning of the episode is reminiscent of found-footage horror, putting the audience in the middle of the action as the group fights against a lurking danger. The music is almost jarring, orchestrated to keep viewers on edge at all times. The gang is attacked by mostly unseen foes, leaving them unsure of where the next attack is going to come from as they're picked off one by one. Masked attackers are also a common trope in horror, as the mask removes a villain's humanity. All of this chaos combines to create a primal sense of fear the genre aims for.

As the episode follows Maggie's escape, she winds up in an abandoned building nearby with only a flashlight. Multiple jumpscares give the scene a familiar horror vibe, using the encroaching shadows to create an unsettling feeling of something hiding in the dark. The Reaper appearing in the darkness over Maggie's shoulder after she lights a match is a classic pulled from the horror toolbox. The episode's audio also does a great job at setting a creepy vibe; the echoes of walkers and the cawing of crows all contribute to the hair-raising tension.

While "Hunted" has had the greatest example of horror in season 11, The Walking Dead has been leaning into the genre more this season than those previous. Maggie's haunting story of pregnant walkers in episode 2 is a thing of nightmares. The completely silent break-in of the military base in episode 1 also played with audio in a similar way as "Hunted." Both parts of "Acheron" have the party walking down an actual river of the dead in the metro, punctuated with the dystopian remnants of life and Gage's horrific end. In just three episodes, The Walking Dead has proven it remembers its horror genre roots in every episode.

Next: The Walking Dead Needs Rick Grimes For Season 11 (Not Spinoff Movies)

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