This review only pertains to the two-hour, two-episode premiere “Go for Broke/Gore.”
Deeply developed characters trapped in a breathtakingly hostile sea of white with undisguised cruelty and signs of psychological deterioration creeping upon them at the most dreadful of times — AMC’s “The Terror” is a nightmarish delight. This latest historic horror series gives its two-hour running time justice, a match made in heaven for those with a taste in adept storytelling and appreciation for well-thought-out, old-fashioned horror that dates back to John Carpenter’s masterpiece “The Thing.”
“The Terror” follows British Royal Navy Capt. Sir John Franklin (Ciarán Hinds) at the end of his shaky career. Labeled as “a man everyone likes, but no one respects,” Franklin sees one crewmember after another perish on previous expeditions, and now he plans on retiring with honors after discovering the Arctic’s treacherous Northwest Passage. Guiding the HMS Erebus into uncharted territory blinded by his own hubris, this supposedly simple journey led two ships worth of captains, their crews and royal marines to struggle to survive in a land that wants them dead, with Franklin trying to undo the damage that he has caused.
The success behind “The Terror” lies in the narrative taking its time to spoon-feed its viewers the developing character intrigue — particularly between Cmdr. Franklin and Capt. Francis Crozier (Jared Harris) — and how fear can transform even the most sophisticated men into heartless savages. Relying on traditional survival horror rather than the seen-it-all-before jump scare fest, “The Terror” will make you fear being out in the open.
Go into “The Terror” with the understanding that mystery and suspense take priority over cheap scares and action sequences. The festering fear hinted in conversations or subtly illustrated out in the deceptively safe landscape created chilling scenes of suspense that will leave many pausing to grab a blanket. While some might not appreciate the time it takes for the story to shift from exposition to action — I do not recommend this show if you cannot tolerate the pace — those who appreciate intentionally slow-telling tales will appreciate “The Terror” for leaving nothing to be desired except more episodes.
Other than the show’s fleshed out script and beautiful sets, this show is led by a fantastic cast that adds to the realistic historical experience, making you forget that you are watching fiction. Other than Ciarán Hinds and Tobias Menzies, who plays the overinflated Cmdr. James Fitzjames, Jared Harris stood out the most as the very haunted — and logical — Capt. Francis Crozier. When the weather took a turn for the worse, Francis voiced our thoughts, expressing concern over being trapped in the ice. His disposition, while not charismatic, will compel viewers into foolishly hoping for his survival.
Overall, “The Terror” is what old-fashioned horror fans were looking for. If you love slow-burn storytelling with a well put-together direction and characters with survival horror tropes that get “The Thing” and “Alien” fans itching for more, then this 10-episode series is one that you will definitely enjoy. If you have a weak stomach, do not watch it. “The Terror” promises blood, and I am sure it shall fulfill it.