Tag Archives: Jared Harris

AMC’s The Terror – Season 1

AMC surprised me with The Terror, their long form adaptation of Dan Simmons’s horror novel. This is a horror story, but it’s also so much more, an entire world of storytelling woven into ten episodes that feel almost like real time, or at least that’s how invested I was. I also binged the whole thing in one sitting yesterday (don’t judge) so that probably helped to make it an immersive experience as well. This is flat out fantastic work on every level and probably the best thing the network has done, or at least my favourite.

The time period is the mid 1800’s, as the two real life Royal Navy ships the H.M.S. Eberus and H.M.S. Terror wind their way through the arctic, trying to find a Northwest Passage. Now anyone who knows their history ahead of time (I didn’t) recalls that these two vessels infamously disappeared out there, and all one hundred twenty nine of their crew were sadly never heard from again. This story blends fact, fiction, Inuit mythology and esoteric aspects to envision what might have befallen them, and the result is mesmerizing. Captained by Sir John Franklin (the great Ciaran Hinds) and Francis Crozier (Jared Harris), their situation becomes dire when the ships are moored in impenetrable ice and stuck for literal years. They face just about as many hardships as you can throw at a poor band of marooned sailors including dwindling food supplies, madness, mutiny and the elements but there’s also something else out there, something big, mean, savage and out to hunt or maul anyone who strays too far onto the tundra. Hinds does a stellar job as the brave but unsteady Captain, while Harris blasts into the stratosphere with a role that will probably define his career and serve as a glowing example of how to embody a brilliantly written character arc. Game Of Thrones’s Tobias Menzies is superb as Fitjames, their fussy third in command who learns some hard lessons. The cast are all absolutely on fire and there’s too many performances to praise here but standouts are Ian ‘Professor Quirrell’ Hart as the resilient badass Mr. Blanky, Christos Lawton as conflicted senior officer Hodgson and Paul Ready as Goodsir, a compassionate, thoughtful doctor. My favourite performance/character is that of Lady Silence (Nive Nielsen), an Inuit woman who crosses their paths and must tangle with the creature alongside them, she plays the fear well while holding her own in scenes that require careful internal intuition.

This show gets severely bloody and realistic in depiction of the monster attacks and all the other horrors that befall these poor souls. It’s violent, disturbing on a soul level, unrelentingly bleak at times and the depraved human behaviour on display is chilling. But despite all that, there’s a warmth, a fellowship among these men and you really come to care about them as much as they care for and try to help each other through an unimaginable ordeal. The environment around them is brutally indifferent to their plight, but there’s a sombre beauty as well and though much of it is CGI, it’s always breathtaking. Ice caps, frozen inlets and desolate plains open up to greet them, it’s a lonely place inhabited only by Inuit and the beast that hunts them. The original music by Marcus Fjellström is beautifully haunting and makes this journey all the more atmospheric. I’ve heard that AMC plans to make this an anthology and kick off season two with a different setting and story. If it’s anywhere close to as top quality as this, I’ll be there. One of the best season of television I’ve seen in a while.

-Nate Hill

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Paul WS Anderson’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse

As the doors of the Hive blast open and gory mayhem eats up the streets of Raccoon City, so too does Paul W.S. Anderson plough past the restraint and pacing of his first chamber piece horror show for something that resembles all out chaos and splatters across the screen on a much larger scale. Is that a good thing? Well… the short answer is.. sort of. The first RE is the only one that is actually a great film, and everything after is commotion, a bunch of competing ideas stuck in a blender, left on tumble dry and scattered throughout a laser tag arena while music videos blare in the background on double volume. That’s not to say they aren’t any good though, there’s definitely fun to be had, but the sleek viscera and unmistakable style of the first film are out the window. Milla Jovovich’s Alice has become a walking government weapon, decked out with genetically altered killer instincts and superpowers, on a bullet ridden quest to eradicate that pesky T Virus and all the abominations it has brought with it. The super memorable team of mercs from the first are all but decimated (the film severely misses Michelle Rodriguez’s presence), the city’s population dwindling with the Zombie threat and the nefarious Umbrella Corporation preparing to seal it off for good, because apparently their power supersedes that of the actual government. Alice is joined again by Matt (Eric Mabius) or at least a version of him, and aided by a few ass kicking newcomers like super cop Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), hotshot mercenary Carlos (Oded Fehr, honestly one of the coolest characters in the whole franchise), wise ass street hustler LJ (Mike Epps), a TV reporter (Sandrine Holt) and more. There’s a lot of slow motion jumping, kicking, fucking shit up and busting through more plate glass windows than the grips could haul in by the hour, Anderson shows he can operate in a vast, spacious playground like Raccoon City (actually Toronto) as adeptly as a close quarters science lab full of slicing lasers and undead dobermans. German character actor Thomas Kretschmann does an icy, evil turn here as Umbrella bigwig Major Cain, a quietly deranged, power mad asshole who unleashed the freaky Nemesis monster, an ugly golem with built in weaponry and enough horsepower to bash through brick walls. It’s all a lot of wanton sound and fury, but Anderson makes it fun, fast and gory as all hell. As far as the sequels go, I consider this puppy to be the best, or at least the most entertaining. Watch out for Jared Harris as an Umbrella guru who literally and figuratively fathered the infamous ‘Alice’ computer program that begat this whole freak show, and Ian Glenn briefly as a new villain in a setup for Extinction, which is kind of like the hangover after Apocalypse’s raging block party. Good shit.

-Nate Hill