Does having Hollywood big-league names make a TV show more appealing? Yes, I like to think so.
The Strain has been this year’s most-anticipated summer show and why the hell not? Based on Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel trilogies, as well as being produced by FX, The Strain has the complete package to knock out the rest of its competitions.
The first episode centers on a mysterious plane which landed in JFK airport with its gate and windows sealed. Thinking this is bad, the airport manager called upon Dr Goodweather and his team from CDC to check it out. Once the epidemiologist and his gang discovered that hundreds of the passengers on board are presumably dead and a mysterious coffin, along with horrific worms, appear in the cargo holding, they know things are going to be bad. Like REALLY bad.
While the teaser trailer wants me to believe The Strain is a modern no-nonsense vampire show, I was glad it didn’t go with that direction. Within the first 10 minutes, the pilot has proven to be campy. No originality here. None of these actors can act without spitting cringe-worthy dialogues. No Bram Stoker’s Dracula here. No, this is a show about vampire virus and why you should care about them.
Horror genre is not easy on TV and that’s the fact. You either rely on gore and jump-scare, which is quite hard and got dull after sometime or you rely on stupidity. The stupidity of horror movie defy any logic sense and this is allowed and is encouraged in my opinion. Because we watch horror genre for fun, don’t we? And The Strain clings hard on that notion, hoping the method will excel on the small screen
The Strain’s horror-stupidities are countless, from the flawed characters who feel disconnected at times to the not-so-dangerous antagonist ancient vampire. For example, Dr Goodweather (played by the not-bald Corey Stoll) appears to be a decent family man at first. He attends his marriage counseling session and tries hard to get back together with his wife. But after few scenes, you might want to change your opinion and asked him, “why bother to work on your marriage when you have a mistress at work?”
Next, we have a seventy-year old Professor Abraham Setrakian (played by veteran actor David Bradley) who holds the key to this mysterious cause. His character has an awesome introduction, but judging by his age it’s hard for me to take him and his karate chop seriously. As if that’s not stressful enough, the show then introduce us to the mystery being inside the coffin who got escaped at the end. Want to know his name? You sure? Okay, his name is the Master. This Master apparently owns a billion dollar company or some kind and reminds me of the vampire plot from the epic movie, Underworld, where vampires have adapt the modern civilization and are living in disguise. I was hoping to see Bill Nighy or Michael Sheen pop out at any second there.
Guillermo Del Toro’s vision of modern vampire is playful, complete with its build up tension and great horror props (those dry skins, am I right?). But, unfortunately story-wise the pilot doesn’t have anything new to offer for me to tune in again next week. I understand I am being subjective here because I have to. I have read many good reviews on the show and I agree with some of them. Because as I have stated before, horror on TV are meant to be stupid-fun and the show provided just that.
For me The Strain sounds better on paper than on television (or even movie!). Cause in the end, I don’t care if the whole New York will be a vampire colony, because let’s get real why would that be a bad thing? Nor do I care whether Professor Setrakian will defeat his once nemesis (I am rooting for you buddy!). Saying that, however, I am interested in the Master’s return with this new plague agenda, and would opt to read the novela instead of wasting my time on this FX’s oh-so-scary horror fiction.