What is the opposite of eye candy? Eye vinegar? “Hannibal” is part of a small surge of horror-tinged TV dramas that go deep into the ugliest potential of the human psyche. The show, largely based on characters created by “The Silence of the Lambs” author Thomas Harris, is a relentlessly gray nightmare of killing and being killed, of friends and family hiding murderous secrets, of a garden of partially buried corpses with plump mushrooms growing on their rotting skin. Really, there is nothing in the NBC series that isn’t rank and depressing.
On that level, “Hannibal,” which premieres Thursday night at 10 on Channel 7, is quite a triumph. The expertly chilly atmosphere conveys enough hopelessness and random violence to send you into an angst spiral for a day or two. This is a show on which everyone speaks in a halting, mesmerizing meter about why killers do what they do, as the dissonant strains of the horror soundtrack waft in and out — and then in again with a vengeance, to accompany the lurch of a person or drops of blood from the rafters. No one smiles here, unless they are crazed, and the deliberate, throbbing pace doesn’t give up.