For the first 20 minutes, I felt like I was watching a train wreck of dialogue. The scene opens onboard a Boeing 757 as the flight attendant cries “It’s gonna give!" pushing down on the cargo door as something sinister bursts out. As the plane lands on the runway at JFK and remains unresponsive to outside contact, a control tower lackey stumbles out on the runway exclaiming "Wow, it’s like a big building with wings!" Characters move around each other clumsily as they attempt to set up plot points. We are introduced to Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll, House of Cards) - a fantastic CDC epidemiologist, but a less fantastic husband and father - as he’s called in to inspect the dead 757. His equally talented partner, Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro, The Twilight Saga), is more gutsy and open-minded than Eph, but awkwardly mentions they used to sleep together, seemingly only for the benefit of the audience.
However impressive the other characters may be, the real stars of the show are, of course, the vampires. We are slowly treated to new pieces of information about the creatures, from the white-faced corpses on the plane to the appearance of the coffin in the cargo hold. The first on-screen vampire murder is a special effects delight, a brilliant scene of carnal hunger and gore that the vampire genre has sorely needed. As the audience pieces the monster together, we begin to realize the horrors in store for the poor folks dissecting the corpses from the plane. I don’t think I will be able to hear the song “Sweet Caroline” anymore without looking over my shoulder nervously. These vampires are pure animal instinct and thirst controlled by a viral parasitic tapeworm which showcases the best of the medical horror genre.
The Lord of the Rings) as a well-meaning vampire puppet administrator and Gus Elizalde (Miguel Gomez) as a hired conman, it looks like Dracula has some inside help. I look forward to watching a conspiracy cult wield a vampire biomedical weapon against the best humanity has to offer.
The Strain, which initially left me as skeptical as Dr. Goodweather, is shaping up to be the summer monster series that we’ve all been waiting for. I don’t know if it’s going to keep me up at night like I originally hoped, but I still think it’s going to be a blood-pumpingly good time.