When Guillermo del Toro first conceived The Strain, he intended it to be a vampire horror TV series between three and five seasons long. Nobody would buy it, however, so he and Chuck Hogan turned it into a trilogy of novels, comprising of ‘The Strain’ (2009), ‘The Fall’ (2010) and ‘The Night Eternal’ (2011). Unsurprisingly, a trilogy of vampire horror novels from the mind behind Pans Labyrinth proved to be quite popular – so FX decided to make it a TV show after all.
The first book in the trilogy opens with a Boeing 777 landing at JFK airport in New York, and stopping dead on the tarmac – with no communications, and no signs of life. An alert goes out to the Center for Disease Control (doesn’t it always?), who board the plane and discover inexplicable horrors. So begins a battle against an infection that creates parasitic vampires, whose physiology is laid out in extensive detail in the book. Make no mistake – there will be no ‘glimmering’ in this literary adaptation. If it is romantic vampirism you seek, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
But this is where Guillermo del Toro and his showrunner, Carlton Cuse (Lost), are fighting an uphill battle. We’ve endured Twilight and countless imitators in our cinemas. We’ve had The Vampire Diaries and True Blood sucking ratings through our TV screens – not to mention apocalyptic fare such The Walking Dead, Helix and Falling Skies. We’ve even got The Leftovers to look forward to soon. Why on earth would we need another paranoid ‘battle for survival’ drama funnelled into our living rooms each week?
Guillermo del Toro – that’s why. Nobody does horror the way that he does horror, and now he’s doing it on TV. In addition, he’s doing it with Sean Astin, Corey Stoll, David Bradley, Kevin Durand, and Natalie Brown in the cast – and he is directing the pilot episode himself. If the finished product is as amazing as it sounds, then maybe – just maybe – he can be forgiven for the despicable error in judgement that was Pacific Rim. We’ll know for sure when The Strain premieres on July 19.