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The Strain S1x01 “Night Zero”

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Warning! As it is the pilot episode, this review will be as spoiler free as possible. However, coverage of future episodes will contain spoilers.

The Strain is a show that I’ve been looking forward to a while. Originally a novel from Guillermo Del Toro that has since been adapted into a graphic novel format, The Strain provides an exciting new twist on the horror genre and creates a dark, atmospheric and creepy feeling that should promise to be very entertaining indeed. It’s certainly something that didn’t disappoint, and continues the strong trend of summer-airing shows.

Night Zero opens on an airplane heading to JFK Airport at 8pm on February 8. The plane is from Berlin, with New York as its destination, carrying over two hundred passengers. Everything is seemingly normal until one flight attendant urgently calls for another from the back of the plane and asks for help. The attendant answers and her panicked co-worker is insisting that he heard something alive from in the Cargo Hold. However, there’s just one problem: there are no animals aboard this flight.

Walder Frey is now one of the good guys.

Walder Frey is now one of the good guys.

And that’s all I’m going to say in connection with the plot because the less you know about The Strain’s pilot, like with anything in the horror genre, the better it will be. Surprises are best left open to imagination and there are several within this pilot, which serves as a very strong start to the show. It’s certainly something that I can see tuning in for week after week and, whilst I am unfamiliar with the source material, that should only make it more exciting. It’s also done what any successful adaption should do and that’s get me interested in finding out more about where it came from. Obviously the selling point for me was Del Toro’s involvement and he failed to disappoint, with the director delivering when it comes to the horror side of things, with more than one scary scene in this episode.

However, as strong as The Strain is, it has some problems. Like most pilots, the introduction to characters are awkward and not as perfect as you’d like. For example, the main protagonist, Ephraim Goodweather, played by House of Cards star Corey Stoll, has an all too familiar introduction. The guy has an important post in the CDC, but they’re trying too much to make him look like your average person who you meet on the streets and, as a result, the characterization suffers.

Goodweather is not the only star of The Strain. We get Abraham Setrakian, a pawn-shop owner who’s more than he appears. He’s played by David Bradley, who will be familiar to fans due to his role as Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and Filch in Harry Potter, and his introduction is pretty cool. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more badass elements to come from Setrakian in the future, as it makes a refreshing change to see this actor playing a good guy when we’ve been so used to him playing an antagonist.

Horror fans will find plenty of things to love here. If you enjoy the likes of Hannibal or American Horror Story, then The Strain should be right up your street. While, like almost every pilot, it’s not perfect, it does manage to build a solid foundation that lays the groundwork for things to come. If you’ve watched it already, I’d love to know what you think in the comments below, but if you haven’t then I can certainly recommend it.

Whilst we may not be getting a Justice League Dark movie from Del Toro any time soon, The Strain might just be the next best thing (or at least, until Pacific Rim 2 hits cinemas). Next week can’t come quickly enough.

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