Guillermo Del Toro – The Strain

Since I have already established myself as a Del Toro fan I thought I would take a moment to talk about The Strain.

In anticipation of the TV show release I used by credit on Audible to get an audio book version of this novel. The biggest selling point for me on listening to it versus reading it (aside from needed to kill time in my morning commute) was definitely the fact that Ron Perlman is the narrator. If you are a fan of Perlman’s voice acting work then you will probably enjoy listening to this book. I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum while I talk about this book and the first episode of the TV show.

The Strain novel Cover
The Strain novel Cover

I actively avoided spoilers for this book so I could go in as blind as possible and I have to say it wasn’t entirely what I expected. Yes, it has vampiric monsters, but the title to me makes me think of something purely biological. Turns out there are some supernatural elements to these monsters in the form of some kind of psychic hive-mind link. It doesn’t take much away from the monsters though. It is still a unique concept on vampire lore. More importantly, these big-bads are on the opposite end of the spectrum from Twilight vampires. Finally, a book where the vampires sit firmly on the “villain” side of the morality line! Even the fence sitter monsters in this book aren’t really sympathetic.

The majority of this book follows the events surrounding Doctor Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather of the CDC as he is sent to investigate a commercial flight full of victims seemingly all killed of the same disease simultaneously.

There are of course a variety of other characters to round out the cast, including holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian and expert exterminator Vasily Fet.

As the epidemic spreads across New York Eph and his team must figure out the true origins of the vampire virus and scramble to save as many lives as possible.

The Strain Promotional Poster
The Strain Promotional Poster

As for the TV show The Strain, I am proud to say that the home base for this show is on my home turf, Toronto. As of this post two episodes have aired, and I have seen only the pilot. The first episode follows the beginning of the book quite closely. As I expected some character driven plot points have been rearranged a bit to reduce the heavy character-hopping in the book. This is handled quite well, and nothing important to the plot is lost in translation.

The cast of this show is strong. Staring in this horror TV series is Corey Stoll (the villain from Antman) as Eph, and David Bradley (Filch from Harry Potter) as Abraham. From episode one it is clear that Bradley is perfectly cast for the role of Abraham. I totally buy that he is a bad-ass old time vampire hunter from his first interaction on screen.  Likewise, Stoll is almost exactly what I pictured for the character of Eph.

The effects in the TV show so far appear to be done mostly practically, and enhanced in post with some VFX, which is a big thumbs up in my books. Being a special effects student in Toronto, I started hearing a lot about the studio and the preparations being made before shooting began. I was very excited to see what the team had come out with, and it didn’t disappoint. The design, although only briefly glimpsed in the pilot, look ghoulish and creepy. If you enjoyed the effects in Del Toro’s previous projects such as Mama, then you will like this vampire design.

Overall the pilot looks solid and I am intrigued enough to watch more episodes of the TV show. I will also be looking into buying the next two audio books in the series as the first book leaves off on a cliffhanger. If you enjoy monster flicks, then you will probably enjoy this show. The monster designs are solid and there looks to be enough gore to keep horror fans entertained.

For more information check out The Strain IMDB.

Discussion time! What are your favourite modern vampire stories? Books or movies are both fine!



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