The Strain: Three Things We Liked About Del Toro’s Vampire Tale, And Two We Didn’t

By David Wharton | 7 years ago

MasterBad: The Weird Mix of Science and Supernatural
I haven’t read the Strain novels yet, so leading up to the show I was curious about the exact nature of del Toro and Hogan’s vampires. The posters and trailers were playing up the body horror with the freaky worms that serve as a vector for the vampire plague, but on the other hand there were elements that looked a lot more supernatural. That dichotomy was only strengthened in the full pilot. Everything we see about how the plane’s passengers become the undead seems to be much more “disease” than “dark gift.” Badass pawnshop owner/presumed vampire hunter Abraham Setrakian (Harry Potter’s David Bradley) keeps a “pet” heart riddled with the vampire parasite worms in his home, and during the autopsy on the plane’s dead passengers, we see a cluster of the worms try to burrow into the medical examiner (right before the dead folks stand up and decide it’s chow time).

But then we have “the Master,” a creepy figure who reminds me a lot of the “grim reaper” ghost from Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. He runs around in a big billowing cape. He flies (and lifts 500-pound coffins into the air). He drains people’s blood with a projectile spike-tongue and then smashes their heads into pudding for seemingly no good reason. He’s also got plenty of traditional vampire/Dracula iconography associated with him. He rode to the States in a ridiculously ominous wooden casket filled with soil, he apparently is not a big fan of daylight (all those closed shades on the plane), and Abraham at one point tells Ephraim the vamped-up corpses need to be beheaded and burned. It all makes for an odd fit with the more grounded and science-y take the rest of the episode sets up. I’m not saying these two approaches to vampire lore can’t co-exist, but they definitely feel like an awkward match in the pilot.

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