Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Strain” re-invents vampires


Sean Koepfinger, Staff Reporter

While vampires have been a movie and TV staple for a long time, the age of supernatural teen dramas may be coming to an end. FX’s new vampire thriller, “The Strain,” is reviving the undead creature’s horror roots in a series that can only be described as contagious.

Created by film legend Guillermo del Toro, “The Strain” takes a very modern and scientific approach to the vampire story, focusing on a realistic reaction to the sudden arrival of a vampire virus infecting a post-9/11 New York. Fittingly, the show follows a Center for Disease Control employee, Ephraim Goodweather, as he and his companions attempt to understand and control the rapid spreading contagion.

Originally conceived as a TV series, del Toro was unable to find a buyer and instead chose to publish his story in book form with “The Strain,” “The Fall,” and “The Night Eternal” between 2009 and 2011. After the success of the books, FX picked up the title with plans to adapt the first two books into season one, while splitting the third into season two or seasons two and three.

While only a few episodes in, the series is already showing promise with a diverse set of characters, each struggling with their own personal battles as well as the increasing risk of an epidemic. But with this comes the series’ biggest flaw: an overabundance of subplots. While TV lends itself to multiple story arcs, each episode is crowded with more characters and stories than the 45 minute episodes allow for, causing the series to lose its pacing at times and stray from the main plot. But this is only a minor complaint since each individual story is compelling and helps sculpt the universe of “The Strain.”

Most importantly is the vampires themselves. Del Toro’s love of monsters really shines through this. Although there is a striking resemblance between the creatures of this series and the horrifying Reapers of del Toro’s previous film, “Blade II,” the vampires are as fresh and frightening as ever. They aren’t the cape-clad, widow’s peak, fang-baring creatures of the past, nor are they the far more terrifying glittery sex-idols of the present. Del Toro has created a biological horror worthy of the vampire name and his experience with horror films delivers honest scares from the unsettling to the suspenseful, to the downright terrifying.

If you’re an avid fan of other TV horror series like fellow FX title, “American Horror Story,” then take a chance and sink your teeth into this new fright-fest, and let me know what you think below.