The Strain: Night Zero Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, July 14, 2014
Honestly, I would have ignored the trailers for FX's new series, The Strain, altogether, were it not for one name: Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pacific Rim). If nothing else, for all his hits and misses, this fantastic creator ALWAYS deserves our attention. It seemed as though giving him the opportunity to tell his stories over the span of a TV series would prove a fantastic idea. And so, tonight, we all tuned in to watch “Night Zero”, the pilot episode of Guillermo del Toro's The Strain.
When a trans Atlantic flight from Berlin arrives at JFK with a compartment filled with peacefully dead passengers, we all see where this story is going to go. Naturally, the CDC big-shot with family issues, Dr. Ephraimm “Ef” Goodweather (Corey Stoll), comes eagerly charging in with his partner, Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro), with whom he of course has a history. Together, the scientists investigate the strange biological happenings aboard the flight, where they stumble upon four random survivors and a huge ancient creepy box in the cargo hold. As the mystery begins to unfold and the big baddies are slowly revealed, we learn what we already knew: that this is the work of some kind of very old vampiric virus which is mercilessly feeding off anything it can cling to.
The character highlight of this premier episode is Abraham Setrakian, wonderfully played by David Bradley (whom you might better recognize as the cantankerous caretaker of Hogwarts). Right away, we see that Setrakian is the old one who knows all about these frightening happenings and is, somehow, very personally invested.
Since this episode was actually directed by del Toro, we are treated to the usual (and welcome) creative camera angles and positively beautiful lighting and color. As for the story, we all know that something big is coming in the next episode. For those of us who thought this first chapter was a little too Matrix meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I suggest we hang in there. The opening AND closing narration emphasized one potentially plot-changing factor. Love. It was just enough ambiguity to, hopefully, remind us that things aren't what they seem.
And we all hope The Strain will become a lot more than meets the eye.
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Mania Grade: B
Episode: Night Zero (Season1, Episode 1)
Starring: Sean Astin, Aris Athanasopoulos, Serje Basi, David Bradley, Natalie Brown
Written By: Guillermo del Toro (developer), Chuck Hogan (developer)
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro