Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘The Strain’

You could accuse Guillermo Del Toro of several things but not being dedicated to a project is definitely not one of them (Double negative for the win), he is a man who creates films and media based on his passion which gives most of his work a strange neo fantasy feel. Things like Pacific Rim and Hellboy (A genuine passion project) are both filled with moments that can make a grown man projectile cum a few feet and women become a reason for wet floor signs to exist. After first creating The Strain with the intention of optioning it as a TV program it wasn’t picked up by any networks so GDT then wrote a book based on the TV script with Chuck Hogan (Hulks alter ego?), then wrote a film for the book and finally optioned the book as a TV series and now finally we have The Strain the TV series.

Not as much to do with strenuous activity as I first thought.

The Strain for the uninitiated is a story of CDC First Response Worker Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather responding to a mysterious call regarding a flight that lands safely at an airport with every passenger seemingly dead. We discover that the incident has left survivors who begin showing signs of a new illness and then the race is on to stop a vampire lord from taking over the world with a ragtag group of survivors. I left out a few details as they really ruin the plot which would be a shame as the books are a great read and I would recommend them to anyone who likes a good horror story.

Red lights are out, this year its all about blue.

The first series of the new TV program will apparently follow the first book which is nice, I like that they are delivering the story without the expectation of dragging it out and ruining the narrative. The first episode introduces all the key players and gives a little bit of a taste for the characters and the villains we will be seeing. Eph seems a bit unfocused but kind hearted and trying his best(An argument with his wife in the beginning of the episode seems out of place but its easily forgotten). Nora is Ephs assistant and is a women whose sassy but also caring and they once had an affair (Glossed over with the line “She served me the papers so I never brought it up”). Professor Abraham Setrakian the token old man who seems to know something about the phenomenon and tries to warn our heroes (Introduced as a bad ass beating down gangsters who attempt to rob him all the while being old). Finally Samwise Gamgee who is in this for some fucking reason as Captain Sneaky McBadguy who betrays everyone in the first episode because he is an asshole (As always). One glaringly absent character is Vasiliy Fet an exterminator who becomes a bad ass but he does not appear until later on in the book so luckily they did not shoe horn him into the pilot.

Fun Fact: Rat piss is the currency of the exterminator.

Episode one gives a few of the key plot points and sets up some of the plot points including the treatment of the Strigoi (Romanian vampires) as a virus instead of simply monsters. The word Strigoi is actually absent from this episode but to introduce it at all would be unrequired as so many people will be more familiar with the monsters as vampires although slightly altered from the usual type (Shiny and brooding). Overall the monsters look excellent with a lot of the budget clearly going on make up and effects for the show which is a good since this is essentially a horror film and the over saturated genre has had so many characters matching those we meet in the plot that there needs to be something to keep us coming back when everyone becomes stale.

The Suarez look

Anyway the pilot sets things up with minimal story with things happening and our characters reacting while revealing little details about themselves. The Master is shown a couple of times and looks to be a great villain but he is going to be in this series from beginning to end so he needed to be good. I’m impressed with the casting of Eph and Setrakian (Looking forward to seeing Setrakian’s backstory as that is one of the more cinematic elements of the book) less impressed by the addition of Sean Astin but until I become a casting director I will have to live with him being in films.

He is literally begging for someone to kill him.

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