Archive for September, 2018

As Halloween approaches and the days grow dark and foggy, I’d like to recommend AMC’s The Terror for a top flight dose of Gothic horror.  In 1845, Sir John Franklin sought to cap off his naval career by leading one last expedition to the high Arctic in an effort to find Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. His ships, the Erebus and the Terror, were the two most technologically advanced ships of their day: his men, the astronauts of their time. The 124 man expedition was lost with all hands and their ultimate fate not discovered until recently.

As the series opens, the expedition is ill-omened from the start. Sir John (Ciaran Hinds) ignores the advice of his more cautious and more experienced second in command, Capt. Frances Crozier (Jared Harris), to winter over at King William Island and pushes ahead. The ships become frozen in and the crew can only wait for the coming of spring. But spring comes and the ice does not melt. Facing hypothermia and starvation, the crew’s fate is well and truly sealed when they accidentally kill an Inuit shaman, unleashing the spirit creature he controls, the Tuunbaq, which begins to stalk and kill the remaining men.

As the story unfolds, however, it becomes clear that the monster is less of a threat to the expedition than Victorian hubris, race prejudice, lead poisoning, and the mental strain such difficult conditions placed on the men. The expedition, in short, carries the seeds of its own destruction with it and those destructive tendencies play out over the course of the show.

Television series and movies set in the Arctic often suffer from a lack of realism. Not so The Terror. The level of care and detail in re-creating the ships, the clothing, the landscapes, and the weather is so high that you’ll have a hard time believing that most of the series was shot on sets in Czechoslovakia. Kudos to the producers and the technical crew.

Final verdict: one part Gothic horror story, one part gripping historical drama, The Terror is well worth your time.




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