Due to the sheer volume of quality TV being delivered these days, it’s nigh-on impossible to keep up with every interesting looking new show. The likes of Netfix, Amazon, HBO and the BBC, are all releasing a steady stream of prestigious new material and to stay on top of it all you need to dedicate an unfathomable amount of time. As a result, and with new 2018 shows coming thick and fast, difficult selection decisions need to be made.
With that in mind however, I’m here to make the case that AMC’s upcoming survival horror The Terror could well be one of the must-watch shows of 2018. The ten-episode season will begin with a two-hour premiere on the AMC channel on the 24th April (26th March in the USA), and it looks set to deliver chills and shocks aplenty.
“There have been more successful trips to the moon than there have been passages of the Northwest Passage.” – Jared Harris in a recently released ‘making of’ video.
The show’s narrative is based on the novel of the same name by author, Dan Simmons. Simmons did draw on historic events as inspiration for his book however. The incident in question refers to an expedition led by a British naval officer named Sir John Franklin.
In 1845 Franklin took two ships, HMS Erebur and HMS Terror, to try and find the Northwest Passage through the Arctic circle to China, India and beyond. The two ships soon ran into trouble however and became trapped in the ice. Eventually the entire crew of 129 men perished before they could reach safety.
The two ships were only actually found a few years ago and much speculation remains over the exact fate of the men. Letters discovered on their bodies are among the few clues we have to go on, and tell-tale signs do suggest that cannibalism occurred. What we will witness on the show is therefore a highly-fictionalized account of the dangerous voyage in which as well as the horrific conditions, an added terror element will also be thrown into the mix.
While there is some historical fact worked into the mix on The Terror, the series will certainly not lay claim to pinpoint accuracy. A major giveaway in this regard is the presence of this strange supernatural presence picking the crew members off. The trailer suggests a claustrophobic and perilously exposed environment for the men, and out there in the ice lies something even more terrifying.
It’s an interesting extra element to the show that nods towards monster movies such as Alien or Jaws. Indeed, the similarities to the former are not entirely coincidental as Ridley Scott in onboard as an Executive Producer. As in his seminal movie, here we have a story of mankind venturing somewhere they don’t belong and running into a creature who feels very much at home. It’s going to be interesting to see how this supernatural element is blended in with the distinctly grounded and human side of the story.
The Terror’s showrunners have been keen to stress however that this is far from a mere monster show. Soo Hugh and David Kajganich confirmed in an interview with IGN:
“I would call it a horror show, but not necessarily a monster show…Because the monster is just one of the dozen terrors that the title could refer to …”
They go on to stress that the human side of the story, the extreme lengths they are pushed to and how their relationships are duly effected, are also a crucial part of the psychological terror that engulfs them:
“We know this expedition had bursts of violence, and we know this expedition ended in cannibalism. And those things don’t just happen one day gently,”
The Terror is blessed with a strong leading cast with Ciaran Hinds playing Sir John Franklin, as well as Tobias Menzies and Jared Harris as Captains Francis Crozier and James Fitzjames. The show looks to be mightily impressive visually too. Judging by the trailers released thus far, we can expect a gorgeously realised period setting with a clear commitment to detail. There is a air of desolation hanging over every shot and it’s hard to not to start shivering at the sight of every icy breath catching in the air.
Mixing history, adventure, horror, psychological thriller and survival drama, it’s looking set to be an intense saga that will immerse you into its frozen world and keep you guessing as its mysteries unravel.