(Have a pic of Corey in lieu of that creepy eye poster, because I'm nice like that).
FX’s new monster, “The Strain” (which premieres on July 13th), calls for the courageous, unquestionably. A brilliant interpretation of one of history’s most-beloved classics (more on that, briefly), “The Strain” is seamlessly written and features magnetic personalities, top-notch on-screen performances and the kind of gore and special effects you’d anticipate from a big budget summer blockbuster. It’s the perfect package for those feeling deprived of excellent horror on the boob tube, and there is more than a single defined strength fueling the machine.
A Clever New Spin on an Age Old Tale
“The Strain” kicks off in explosively revealing fashion. The narrative runs a stealth parallel to one of the greatest fictional works in the history of mankind. Episodes 1.01 and 1.02 (titled “Night Zero” and “The Box,” respectively) amount to an insanely clever retelling of the infamous Count Dracula’s arrival in Whitby by way of the isolated hills of Transylvania. But make no mistake; the story is so immaculately assembled you’ll likely miss that fact altogether. That’s a good thing. Tellings of Dracula’s origin (and just to clarify, I’m not saying the antagonist of “The Strain” is actually Dracula himself) have saturated the market for too many years to count and they’re not typically creative. An approach as sagacious as this is a near-unrivaled rarity, and the witticisms in the screenwriting are deeply appreciated.
Peel the layers away and you know the outline of this story (at least the beginning). However, if you sit back and allow fluent, refined storytelling to swallow you whole, you’ll never grasp the fact that – to an extent – you’ve heard this one before. That’s the mark of a passion project turned successful art showcase. “The Strain” sports the same gravitational pull that smash hits like “The Walking Dead” bear, and to know that at this point it feels an awful lot like an ultra-respectful tribute to Bram Stoker’s Dracula speaks heavily to its extreme degree of ingenuity.
A Cast to Believe in
“The Strain” doesn’t boast a lineup of A-list exclusives. It does, however, function as a platform for established, cultivated performers that are about to endear themselves to home viewers in a way that in many cases has thus far been somewhat elusive. Corey Stoll (whom you may recognize from “House of Cards” or one of the latest Liam Neeson hits, Non-Stop) fronts the project as the headstrong maestro of the CDC Canary Project, Ephraim Goodweather. He’s wildly sporadic and completely unpredictable yet, ironically, delivers the perfect heroic balance. David Bradley (Harry Potter’s Argus Filch) stands in as today’s equivalent of Van Helsing, and the man’s ability to impose dominance while playing a chameleon-like role is laudable to say the least. Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings), Richard Sammel (Inglourious Basterds) and Jack Kesy (see the critically acclaimed indie effort Morgan) all turn in the kind of supporting roles that eventually evolve into springboards for more great projects. This is a cast to believe and invest in.
High Intensity Gore
Anticipate no pulled punches from the crew behind this nasty production. Viewers will not be spared graphic, up close and personal depictions of savage brutality. The gore (and special effects in general) is simply top-notch, fully fit for any fine R-rated picture. And viewers will understand that inside of a single episode. But the beauty behind these highly detailed shots is the fact that they aren’t forced down our throats; they do not serve as any primary focal point. They’re story enhancers, as all great gore shots should be. They should serve only to hammer home the vigor of a certain situation. “The Strain” gets it right in repulsing (in the greatest of ways, mind you!) viewers in measured doses. It may sound like an oxymoron, but this is a project that offers classy grotesqueries that will sate the appetite of gorehounds without offending the sensitive of belly.
Rest of the list at the Source