When it was announced that Sir Ridley Scott was making The Terror series for AMC, I was definitely intrigued. Sure, he’s had some missteps in recent years (Exodus, anyone?), but the 80-years-young director continues to keep a breakneck pace of projects with a pretty good semblance of why Ridley remains an iconic filmmaker.
The Terror show is based on the 2007 novel by Dan Simmons. The basis is a fictionalized account of the 1845–1848 lost expedition to locate the Northwest Passage via the Arctic of Captain Sir John Franklin of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror. The majority of the characters in the source are based on real-life members of Franklin’s crew; their unexplained disappearance still causing speculation today.
Anytime Scott gets to play with fear and the unknown, you know you’re in for a pretty good result. Set in the tundra and ice with possible supernatural ‘terror’ elements puts viewers right back into one of the touchstones of Ridley’s filmography, Alien.
My Rome reasoning is because series stars Ciarán Hinds and Tobias Menzies are together again on this ill-fated journey, the pair having played Julius Caesar and Brutus in the HBO series about the Empire. The first dinner scene in The Terror has Menzies talking about Caesar crossing the Rubicon, and I guffawed loudly (and not just at Tobias’s terrible wig).
Production value is high, even though again we’re getting ship’s cabins with remarkably tall ceilings (*cough* Black Sails *cough*). You FEEL the cold seeping out of your screen, not just via the condensation breath of each sailor, but the general texture and saturation of every scene. It’s a little The Thing, it’s a little space exploration-y, it’s a lot of quiet drama.
I made a joke that I was expecting to see Adam (Frankenstein’s monster) walking up to the ships across the ice.
The play of Inuit superstitions and Jared Harris‘s understanding of parts of their culture make for some fascinating intrigue, and I can’t wait to see what happens with the rest of the season.