The Strain

Disclaimer: I have read the novels that this series is based on. The novels were engaging and the mythology interesting, but as a whole, the pacing was rather slow and the dialogue uninspiring. The strong points were definitely the mythology and the depiction of the monsters, as well as the action sequence. However, towards the end, the pseudo-religious symbolism and christian parallels got just a bit too heavy handed.

Pilot: FX's newest horror series sure have a lot of pedigree. Based on a best-selling novel trilogy and with cult horror maestro Guillermo del Toro has the author/creator/EP and Carlton Cuse (for better or worse) on board too, expectations are running high. The cold opening definitely set the tone, with del Toro behind the camera and Ramin Djawadi (Pacific Rim and Games of Thrones) scoring the music. the tension, mood and scares were all on point. However, when the main cast start coming out, that's when things start getting flat and - to be honest - rather tedious. Perhaps more so for a book reader? Chuck Hogan's dialogue still has not improved. Corey Stoll does not fit the Ephram that I had in my mind: I do not see the strength behind the wishy-washiness even with all that hair; Mia Maestro (ah...Sydney Bristow's sister!) was a good choice for Nora and with her Alias background I can see her evolving to suit the development of the character; David Bradley was an excellent choice for Abraham. The others so far have minimum impact. Zack is such a over-precocious child...yikes! As the novels evolve, the relationship between Ephram, his wife and son slowly took centre-stage, but in this pilot, these three individuals do not connect. Not amongst themselves nor with the audience. And that was actually a pertinent problem throughout this 70 mins pilot. The leads have no chemistry between each other nor with their audience. There is only that much the mood, atmosphere, set designs and scares can keep the audience. Perhaps the storyline too - but that aspect may not be enough for those who have read the books (which may or may not be a good portion of del Toro's fans).

Episode 2, The Box: A much better outing. Less on the horror aspects but a slightly deeper focus on the characterisation. At least Eph is starting to get more interesting rather than a being flat, boring character. The most interesting character has still got to be Abraham. His backstory, and chemistry, with Thomas Eichorst was riveting. We got introduced to Vasiliy Fet and a better understanding of Gus (who grew as a character that I liked in the books towards the end). Sadly of the core cast, only Mia's Nora still lacked definition. Del Toro's touches are still clearly evident especially in the horror scenes. At least now, I am more looking forward to the next episode.


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