The Strain Sea­son One

Slip­ping some tongue

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Dvd & blu- ray -

Re­lease Date: 15 De­cem­ber

2014 | 15 | 946 min­utes | Blu- ray/ DVD Cre­ators: Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Ho­gan Cast: Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Mía Maestro, Kevin Du­rand, Sean Astin,

Jonathan Hyde, Richard Sam­mel

Guillermo del

Toro has no truck with angst- rid­den, ro­man­tic By­ronic vam­pires. Mere fangs don’t float his boat ei­ther. If he’d been asked to di­rect a Twi­light film, Ed­ward Cullen would prob­a­bly have looked like Nos­fer­atu with a meat grinder for a mouth. In Blade 2, he gave us vam­pire hy­brids that had mon­strously-elon­gated maws. With The Strain – based on a book se­ries he wrote with Chuck Ho­gan – the vamps have long pre­hen­sile tongues to do the suck­ing. And very disturbing they are too.

The bulk of the vam­pires in The Strain are like a virus, slowly turn­ing New York into a dystopian night­mare of blood- suck­ing zom­bies. Com­bat­ting them are a mot­ley team that in­cludes a sci­en­tist from the Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol ( CDC), a la­conic rat­catcher and a veteran vam­pire hunter. Their prob­lems are ex­ac­er­bated by the fact that an in­tel­li­gent vam­pire elite – which has in­vei­gled its way into po­si­tions of power – is in con­trol and co­or­di­nat­ing the in­fes­ta­tion, paving the way for dom­i­na­tion.

It’s not the most orig­i­nal show on TV, and suf­fers from some down­right dull character build­ing in the early episodes – it needs to es­tab­lish that its lead is a worka­holic, fail­ing fa­ther in a cou­ple of brief scenes, not over three episodes. It doesn’t help that Corey Stoll, as CDC bof­fin “Eph” Good­weather, is a bland lead.

But it reg­u­larly serves up quite bril­liant, full- on gore and hor­ror, some­times drip­ping in black hu­mour, other times just in­cred­i­bly in­tense. Kevin Du­rand gets the best lines as Vasily, the Rambo of ver­min ex­ter­mi­na­tors, while David Bradley is per­fect as griz­zled hunter Se­trakian.

It’s no Walk­ing Dead; The Strain is strictly for hor­ror fans, with limited crossover ap­peal. But if you like a bit of in­ven­tive yuck, it’s qual­ity in­ven­tive yuck.

Ex­tras: Three fea­turettes: “In the Be­gin­ning” ( 14 min­utes); “A Novel Ap­proach” ( nine min­utes), about adapt­ing the books for TV; and “Se­trakian’s Lair” ( nine min­utes) in which ac­tor David Bradley pro­vides a tour of his character’s lair. Dave Golder The Strain was orig­i­nally planned as a TV se­ries, not a book tril­ogy, but the net­work del Toro pitched it to wanted him to make it a com­edy.

Some peo­ple strug­gle to let go of Hal­loween.

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