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The Terror: Season 1 (Blu-ray Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Series
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

Semi-historical supernatural horror about two Royal Navy ships in the 19th century search for the fabled Northwest Passage through the arctic makes for thrilling entertainment in the first season of this anthology series. Stars Jared Harris, Ciaran Hinds, and Tobias Menzies among others.

The Terror: Season 1 Blu-ray (Acorn)The Terror is the 10-episode first season of the horror anthology that runs on BBC Two in the UK and AMC in the US. The series is based on the best-selling Dan Simmons novel, which itself is based on real events.

Set in 1847, the story follows two Royal Navy ships, their three captains, and the crews which were sent to find the Northwest Passage through the Arctic. Captain Sir John Francis (Ciaran Hinds, Game of Thrones), Captain Francis Cozier (Jared Harris, Chernobyl), and Captain Tobias Menzies (Game of Thrones) must contend the harsh, ‘great white void’ of the Arctic as their mission slowly goes sideways and they also discover a horrifying, polar bear-like beast that begins to stalk and kill the crew.

The mixture of psychological horror, character drama, and survival horror in The Terror is absolutely brilliant as the real-life history and the paranormal plays out over the course of 10 episodes.  The crews of the Terror and the Erebus begin to lose their pretensions of civilized behavior and that is when the real horror begins all the while the monster stalking them, almost metaphor for their own abandonment of their societal constraints. If you need some bingeable horror to get your hairs standing and your pulse pounding, then this is the series for you.

The Video

The Terror was shot on the Red Epic Dragon, which is a camera capable of shooting all the way up to 6K resolution, which makes the image quality of this Blu-ray release from Acorn all the more disappointing. Framed at 1.78:1 and encoded in AVC 1080p, the series just does not look good here to put it bluntly. This is a series that number one spends a lot of time in the dark and number two is also very desaturated and many times full of frames of the vast whiteness of the arctic, so no real opportunities for ‘pop.’ But put the production aside, Acorn’s low bitrate encodement that averages ~16Mps and dips as low as 8Mbps is full of banding and posterization. It looks worst in the dark, shadowy scenes but can even be spotted in the bright daylit scenes in the skies or the white snowy backgrounds. It was so bad I even tried turning on the ‘Smooth Gradations’ setting on my LG CX OLED to try to sort it out a bit, but this was beyond the capabilities of even this display to improve in any way.

The Audio

Acorn fails again by offering only a lossy DTS 5.1 mix and LPCM 2.0 stereo for this release. Neither option will light your Home Theater on fire. The 5.1 sounds a bit dull with dialogue that has a little bit of that ‘talking through a cup’ sound and the atmospherics in the surround channels are veiled while low end doesn’t extend deeply like you’d like it too. The LPCM 2.0 is just average and a little average with an obvious ‘hole in the middle’ stereo sound to it.

The Supplements

The ‘Inside the Episode’ featurettes for each episode are enjoyable if brief, providing interview segments and behind the scenes footage.

  • Inside the Episode, eps. 1-10 (1080p)
  • Ridley Scott on the Terror (1080p; 00:02:31)
  • A Look at the Characters (1080p; 00:03:45)
  • The Boat and Visual Effects (1080p; 00:04:18)

The Final Assessment

This is a great series that is given a disappointing transfer to Blu-ray barely better than a cable broadcast. If you haven’t seen it or don’t have AMC or BBC  Two it may still be worth getting, otherwise hope for a better release with better picture and sound.


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The Terror: Season 1 is out on Blu-ray in the UK 26 April 2021 from Acorn Media


  • Rating Certificate: UK:18
  • Studios & Distributors: American Movie Classics (AMC) | Scott Free Productions | Entertainment 360 | EMJAG Productions | AMC Studios | BBC Two | Acorn Media International
  • Run Time: 450 Mins.
  • Street Date: 26 April 2021
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: LPCM 2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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