Boy, Guillermo Del Toro is getting a lot of gigs lately, and I’m truly happy for the guy. I’m a bit of a fanboy when it comes to his work, and that’s mostly because his earlier films were brilliantly poetic horror films. I could probably throw in Edgar Allen Poe right in there too, but this is an article about The Strain. Well, for starters, this series isn’t exactly going to hook you immediately and if you’re not familiar with Del Toro’s work that can be a turn off.
The Slow Boil
One thing that The Strain gets right about horror is that it’s doesn’t want to rush. The story builds over the course of a few episodes, and in that time, we’re introduced to the characters. There’s Ephraim, the negligent workaholic/recovering alcoholic father, and his family. Fet, the hyper competent, anti-social pest exterminator. Gus is a Latino thug who loves his family and friends, and who is also my second favorite in the series. Nora, who follows the same line as Gus but with less of a sketchy past being that she, is a doctor. There’s Satrakian, basically a facsimile of Van Helsing but who is more awesome just by being an ass kicking senior. And finally, there’s Dutch Velders… She plays the redemption story line well, or at least better than any of these characters because her fault is evident and bigger.
Senior Citizen Ass Kickery
It’s a mark of how memorable these characters are, I guess, that I take the time to nitpick them, but the issue here lies in how slow their stories unravel. It takes a few episodes before the show finds its stride, but that’s okay because when it does, The Strain gets very good very quickly. In fact, I’d say any amount of patience you lend this series will get repaid in spades.
Melt in your Mouth Action
Okay, The Strain is supposed to be a horror, and it is in a traditional sense. Tense moments often crop when you know the characters are in danger, but they don’t last as long as you might want them to. An occasional jumpscare will have your heart pumping real quickly, but there is very little suspense to be had in The Strain. What I do keep coming back for is how the danger brings out some pretty awesome and creative action scenes. There’s a part where Ephraim’s son owns at being an independent character, rather than being very useless plot point. Possibly the best fight, however, is the finale engagement against the master himself. This actually segues into the next issue people have about the series.
There are countless movies and series have been awash with vampire lore; taking them away from what they once were. Ann Rice may be at fault here, but there is a lot of value to be found in the seductive tempter. The vampires in this series don’t look very good, and often seem too covered in prosthetics. But I realized one thing about them all. They all look like the original film vampire, Nosferatu.
Waiting for a tentacle
The Strain is fun and reminds me of the first 5 seasons of Supernatural. However, there is a sense of impending dread in the finale, which you know will bite you back in the ass eventually. I’d recommend this series to folks who are tired of zombie shows and don’t want to jump into superhero centric series like The Flash, Constantine, Gotham, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.