Guillermo Del Toro's The Strain premieres Sunday night on FX (10 pm), and if you love creepy vampire schlock, then this might be the lover you've been looking for. The early reviews are already in, and here's what some of the critics are saying...
I've seen the first four episodes of The Strain, and they're lots of fun, and effectively creepy. They give proper service to the conventions of the genre — there's even an elder Van Helsing type who knows how to hunt down and kill these nasty, no-longer-human bloodsuckers — but there's also a lot of the inventive visual flair and strong characterization that made the movie Alien so frightening, and compelling, back in the '70s.
While Extant tries to creep you out with what you can’t see, The Strain gorges on absurdities the way its infected characters chug blood. You could play a game of spot-the-cliché with The Strain: vampires, malevolent corporations, Nazis, Holocaust survivors, Latino petty criminals— Bingo! Del Toro directed the first episode and executive produces the series, and like his giant monster vs. giant robot movie Pacific Rim, The Strain has a kind of earnest and respectful fanboyishness, in which every single ridiculous element mandated by the genre is rendered seriously but not exactly unknowingly. His love for the material is so deep, he won’t wink at it, and that gives audience the freedom to laugh—sometimes, but not always, with the show.
It’d be incorrect to say The Strain is a bad series, but it would also be incorrect to say it’s a great one. The pilot is an interesting attempt at world-building, but it moves rather slowly. The second episode is sort of bland until the final scene. The third episode’s rather good, and the fourth episode is fairly excellent. What’s lacking so far is a sense of consistency. At times, the series delivers some of the best WTF moments since True Detective, but then other times it’s as bland as NBC’s Dracula.