Look at NBC’s Dracula. That got the axe after a single – albeit disappointing – season. Remember Demons? That didn’t survive too long. How about that small screen Blade adaptation? Womp womp. Sure there are success stories within the subgenre, but they’re not exactly the norm. True Blood is still undead and kicking. Buffy slayed an assortment of vampires for seven seasons, and I’ll openly admit, she was damn good at her job! We’ve seen a few exceptional vamp tales swoop into households over the years (I confess, the goofy gothic soap Dark Shadows remains an all-time favorite of mine), but they’re few and far between.
The point is, when it comes to crafting a vampire series, it’s a crap shoot. That said, FX isn’t blindly gambling, they’re making a calculated bet. And it’s going to pay off in a major way.
Guillermo del Toro, Chuck Hogan and Carlton Cuse bring a wildly fanciful approach to the classic Count Dracula mythos, decorating a tale we know well in such elaborate fashion it’s rather easy to miss the parallels between The Strain and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But they’re there. And anyone obsessed with the fanged ghouls of the night should recognize them within the series launch, “Night Zero”. But don’t let familiarity fool you, The Strain is unlike any vampire series we’ve seen.
Loaded with labyrinthine subtext and some wildly innovative subplots, The Strain takes an aged formula and injects volumes of ingenuity. Strange parasitic organisms will have viewers bewildered. The expeditious delivery is going to knock the wind right out of the audience. The special effects are absolutely scintillating – on par with big budget chillers – and the cast commands full attention. This is an infectious ensemble that carries charisma to set, and that charisma translates exquisitely onscreen. Series hero, Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) far surpasses polarizing, and he’s got enthralling support from today’s equivalent to Van Helsing, pawn shop owner Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley); Jim Kent (Sean Astin), presiding traitor with a cause; suspicious evildoer Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel); and infected goth-rocker Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy). And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Kevin Durand, Miguel Gomez and Ben Hyland are just a few who also turn in noteworthy performances.
The Strain is a loaded production waiting to see the fuse lit. The match will strike on July 13th, and genre followers are going to be blown away by a powerful story equipped with all the refinement of a major summer blockbuster. Vampires haven’t been this interesting since the prime years of Hammer productions, and anyone feeling a bit leery about what appears to be weather trodden territory is in for a mind blowing surprise.