Aside from the immortality and the babes, there are a great many things about being a vampire that suck. If you thought it was a pain in the balls not being able to see your reflection in a mirror, though, or having to sub in shallots for garlic in every recipe, then you ain't seen nothing yet. On Sunday night's episode of The Strain, FX's hybrid vampire-plague thriller, director Guillermo del Toro raised the stakes on what it means to be an undead bloodsucker. Spoiler alert: this might make you barf.
Next week on The Strain: That guy buys a Maserati, a Hummer, and a Desert Eagle.
HBO's The Leftovers has captured significant buzz this summer, but there's another summer series with a Lost pedigree (Carlton Cuse is an Executive Producer) that's delivering creepy and terrifying visuals, along with a narrative that manages to move along at a satisfying pace. If this scene is the most disturbing thing you've seen since The Silence of the Lambs, and you think that's a good thing, then The Strain is probably for you. If you've been waiting weeks for The Leftovers to get good, here's another spoiler alert for you: The Strain has already gotten good, a bit slowly in the first episode, then with a vengeance in the second and third.
The series stars (spoiler alert!) ill-fated House of Cards Congressman Corey Stoll as a CDC investigator hot on the trail of a mystery virus that wiped out most of the passengers on a commercial airliner. Without giving too much away, it is a vampire virus, and it makes your dick fall off into the toilet.
The show is chock-full of that kind of skin-crawling visual horror, but manages to combine them with surprisingly affecting drama. There's a scene in the pilot in which badass pawn shop owner Abraham Setrakian, portrayed by David Bradley (Game of Thrones Red Wedding architect Walder Frey), induces shivers by feeding a vampire worm-ridden, disembodied heart in an antique jar. That scene pays off with aching grace in the third episode, and is a great example of what elevates The Strain beyond standard horror fare.
So far, the formula is a success. Including DVR viewing, The Strain's pilot episode pulled in a basic-cable-impressive 4.7 million viewers, and once On Demand viewing for the following week are factored in, that total could reach 10 million. Since it's only three episodes in, there's plenty of time to catch up now, and if you have to choose between The Strain and The Leftovers, go for the fresh meat.