Monday, February 23, 2015

'The Strain'

A few years ago, I wasn't too impressed when I rushed through Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan's trilogy 'The Strain'. It read like a story waiting to be adapted to big screen, which is really what's intended.

When the television series debuted last July, I wasn't particularly fixated on it. Was occupied finishing 'American Horror Story S4' and 'Penny Dreadful S1', and catching 'Constantine'. Finally got around to the 'The Strain S1'. The first three episodes started off well. I kinda lost interest mid-way but I persisted. Mixed feelings about it. (Reviews here, here, here and here.)

I would venture to suggest that the television adaptation seems to play out slightly better than the books. Just for fun, I flipped through the trilogy again, to remember what exactly it is that I'm not impressed with. Titled 'The Strain', 'The Fall' and 'The Night Eternal', the trilogy uses standard narrative techniques and devices. The story of a small team of humans against the greater evil. There's always a quest, a hunt and a mission of sorts. Many characters that annoyed me in the books definitely irritated the hell out of me on the screen, especially Dr Ephraim 'Eph' Goodweather and his son Zachary 'Zack'. Couldn't they have chosen better actors? Lead vampire hunter and Holocaust survivor and Abraham Setrakian was disappointingly uncharismatic.

I'll try not to give anything away since the television series will probably follow the books, given that Guillermo del Toro is involved in producing every episode. Book Two 'The Fall' repeats so much of what happened in Book One that I felt like time had been wasted reading 'The Strain'. On television, S1 has ended and S2 has begun production.

By now, the original strigoi- the first generation of vampires, the Regis Air victims and their Dear Ones - had begun their second wave of maturation. They were becoming more accustomed to their environment and new bodies. Learning to adapt, to survive - to thrive. They attacked at nightfall, the news reported "rioting" in large sectors of the city, and this was partially true- looting and vandalism ran rampant in broad daylight - but no one pointed out that activity spiked at night.   
Because of these disruptions occurring nationwide, the country's infrastructure was beginning to crumble. Food delivery lines were broken, distribution delayed. As absences increased, available manpower suffered and electrical outages and brownouts went unserviced. Police and fire response times were down, and incidences of vigilantism and arson up.

Let's just say I don't like the ending. It's weak and unimaginative. This vampire apocalypse doesn't appeal. It's not even as riveting as the storyline of 'Underworld'. I won't be watching 'The Strain S2'. Trying not to do spoilers here, and extracting only these few lines from Book Three 'The Night Eternal', foretelling what happens in the future, what could only happen when humans are not as strong or as united.

The Master's plan was a resounding success. In brutally Darwinian fashion, the Master had selected the survivors for compliance and malleability. Its growing strength was nothing short of terrifying. With the Ancients destroyed, its control over the horde - and through them, the world- had broadened and become ever more sophisticated. The strigoi no longer roamed the streets like raving zombies, raiding and feeding at will. 
Their movements were coordinated. Like bees in a hive or ants in a hill, they apparently each had clearly defined roles and responsibilities. They were the Master's eyes on the street. 
In the beginning daylight was entirely gone. A few seconds of faint sunlight could be glimpsed when the sun was at its zenith, but other than that, the darkness was unremitting. Now, two years later, the sun filtered through the poisoned atmosphere for only two hours each day, but the pale light it gave was nothing like the sunlight that had once warmed Earth. 
The strigoi were everywhere, like spiders or ants, making sure that those left alive were truly fitting back into a routine...

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