Horror Television

‘The Terror: Infamy’ Doesn’t Need Ghosts to be Scary

In the third episode of The Terror: Infamy, one of the main characters told his wife, who put up some items to protect from evil, “It may protect us from spirits, but not from human evil.”

The latest installment of the supernatural anthology series by Alexander Woo and Max Borenstein explores a dark part of history in America during World War II — Japanese American internment and the ghosts (yūrei) that haunt them.

Although the Terror series is known for their supernatural elements, the human aspect of having Japanese Americans be racially profiled and placed into camps by their own country is quite more frightening because it actually happened.

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The series follows Henry Nakayama (Shingo Usami), his wife Asako (Naoko Mori), and their son Chester (Derek Mio) and their community of friends including Yamato-san (George Takei, who lived in an interment camp as a child and served as a consultant). After immigrating from Japan to Terminal Island, a few miles south of Los Angeles, Henry and Asako have built a life for themselves. Henry is a successful fisherman who is one of the only Japanese American to own a car. His son Chester, who attends university for photography, wants to leave the island and create a new life for himself and his pregnant Spanish-American girlfriend, Luz (Cristina Rodlo). Things change when the infamous Executive Order 9066 is issued and everyone with Japanese ancestry must report to an internment camp.

Meanwhile, a dark spirit surrounds the Nakayamas and their friends, following them from their home on Terminal Island to the camps. The yūrei is named Yuko (Kiki Sukezane) and she is angry. Like most Japanese horror films, the yūrei cannot rest until they have their vengeance against the one who wronged them. The horror portions of the series are gruesome and had frightening, but they are no match for the human evil that the series showcases.

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The human stories are much more appealing. Usami portrayal of Henry as a man whose country he loves turn his back on him is the most haunting part of the series. We see the downfall of a man who had lost everything because of systematic oppression and government paranoia. It’s quite heartbreaking to watch, but definitely necessary to understand the realness of the situation.

Woo, whose past work includes WGN’s Manhattan, another fantastic historical drama on The Manhattan Project (the project that created the first nuclear weapons during WWII), knows how to write human stories inside of history and shows with each episode as the characters deal with life during the war. In the fifth episode of the series, an interrogation leads to an unexpected bonding moment between the two sides — Japan and America — and how the war had changed them both. It was completely unexpected, but also deeply moving to watch.

The Terror: Infamy is extremely well-written and with strong performances from the cast. The series may even remind people of the current political climate at the southern border, which is definitely human evil.

The Terror: Infamy airs on Mondays at 9pm on AMC.