“The Strain” is zany, over-the-top, serialized comic book horror that often veers too close to high camp. I keep waiting for either “South Park” of “Family Guy” to lampoon it. It’s sometimes pretty brainless, and it often seems like the product of a group of hyperactive 14 year old boys sitting down to imagine a vampire apocalypse.
But what the hell? The damn thing works. It isn’t as smart or as grown up as the moody “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead” or “Stranger Things.” But it’s got a fast pace, a kinetic energy and an unpredictability that all of those shows lack. It’s just … more fun. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. And, as my interest in slow-moving zombie dramas starts to wane, this might become my favorite horror show currently on television.
It’s damned ambitious. The writers here desperately want to show a full scale monster armageddon, and they don’t seem to care much that they’ve got a limited budget or a finite number of extras. (We are told, now, that the vampire plague is spreading throughout the country, and is no longer confined to New York City.)
And it’s still scary. Guillermo del Toro’s screeching, leopard-fast vampire baddies are still unnerving. They’re goddam albino apex predators and they’re repulsive. And I think their appeal is surprising after two seasons of audience exposure. I predicted a while back that this show’s horror elements would lose their momentum, and I’ve pleasantly been proven wrong. (Hey, if you’re a horror fan who loves monsters, you eventually crave story antagonists other than doomed, pitiful zombies.)
Last night’s Season 3 premiere offered little that was new. But it did offer Navy Seals fighting vampires in the NYC sewers, and that was frikkin’ sweet. I’d give it a 9 out of 10.