The Strain Season 1 Review “The Box”

The Strain Episode 2 The Box (7)

In the latest episode of “The Strain,” everyone was wondering what’s in “The Box”? (Cue “Se7en” spoof clip in 3, 2, 1) Delivery guy Gus ultimately wanted no part of finding out- probably wise- while the CDC crew looked for it to no end, and Mr. Palmer came face to face (or what have you, given what’s in the box) with it, while we discovered that he was the one who sent for it in the first place. Oh, and whatever it is can assume slightly-human form, though we never saw its “face.” Obviously, it’s some form of vampire- that much we know- but it also seems to be part worm/leech as well.

Also, it can “possess” people and make them crave blood, and may take longer to gestate in some than others. Note that the four “survivors” didn’t show signs until well after being released, save a sort of ear ringing and understandable headaches. Meanwhile, the others “woke up” in the morgue at the Medical Examiner’s room and proceeded to kill him and break free. I know some of you expressed disdain with this element- where is the staff? How did this go unnoticed for so long, until the CDC team showed up? Admittedly good questions and ones I don’t suspect we’ll get much of an answer for.

The fact is, this is a summer show, and not exactly meant to be picked apart too obsessively. You’re either able to go with it, or you aren’t. Hey, believe me, if it were most other genres, I’d be the same way. IMHO, life’s too short to waste time on crappy, second-rate sitcoms or rom-coms or whatever, but damned if I won’t watch the hell out of some cut-rate horror any day of the week. I grew up on a steady diet of horror, so I’m just more inclined to give the genre a pass than some, I guess.

“The Strain” may, ahem, strain creditability at times- okay, a lot of the time- but you know what? I don’t really care, I’ve found. As long as it keeps delivering the goods, special effects-wise, which it has, thus far; and as long as it keeps coming up with nutty characters like Abraham and new recruit Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand, “Lost”), renegade rat exterminator, I’m in. And these names! Vasiliy Fet, seriously? Ephraim Goodweather? Gabriel Bolivar? Eldritch & Eichorst? For reals? Come on now, this is so-bad-it’s-good manna from heaven.

Alright, alright, I get it. We sometimes want our shows to be smarter, even if they’re genre shows. Look at “The Walking Dead,” which one of my comments mentioned. The acting, characterization (especially Lori and Andrea), and plotting is more than a little dubious at times. Hey, they screwed up the initial prison takedown so bad they literally had to do a do-over the following season. Yet, I still watch, as do lots of others. Why? Because it’s freaking zombies!

Yeah, it’d be nice if we could have our brains and eat them, too, but horror has a long history of the stupids, and I’m used to it by now in a way I can forgive a lot easier than other genres, so there you go. Apparently, I’m not alone in this because people continue to watch “Dead” and plenty of other horror shows where that came from- and movies, for that matter. You’re either in or you’re out, simple as that. If you don’t like it, don’t watch, period. Problem solved. Horror is not everyone’s cup of blood, admittedly, and I get that.

Besides, every so often a smart one does come along that makes it all well worth it, and to me, that makes the genre worth rescuing. You have to take the good with the bad sometimes. I don’t know if “The Strain” is the bad yet, and it’s definitely not the smartest thing I’ve ever seen in the horror genre, but it’s an entertaining enough watch, as far as I’m concerned. Better this than some awful reality show or reruns of whatever. But, once again, maybe that’s just me.

This episode, directed by David Semel, wasn’t quite as effective as the pilot, which had Guillermo Del Toro going for it. The pilot was way more stylish and interesting to look at, and you had that first, spectacular kill by the monster in the garage. This one was more straight-forward and far less flashy, with more character development (a plus), but also less action- at least until the very end, where we got another delightfully icky kill, this time from a little girl killing her father, shades of “Night of the Living Dead.”

I liked the stuff with Eicharst and Abraham squaring off at jail. The very idea of an elderly sword-wielding Jewish protagonist taking on an ageless Nazi that serves a giant talking man-worm vampire-hybrid delights me to no end, but I can see where others would be like: are you kidding me with this? And then, just when you thought it couldn’t get crazier, they bring in a crazy exterminator that comes on more like a hit man than a health inspector.

I almost feel like they have to be joking with all this, at least on a certain level. It’s almost like a higher-end Uwe Boll production or something! (And I do not mean that as a compliment- Boll’s stuff is terrible.) Yet, I still find “The Strain” fun, perhaps in spite of myself. It fills the dopey creature-feature hole in my horror-watching schedule just fine, and I will say that it stands out as decidedly different from most any other vampire show/movie I’ve seen as of late, which is something in its favor. There is truly nothing like it on TV right now. (Some might say: Thank God for that, but I digress…)

So, yeah, the very idea that the NTSB would sweep a potential health hazard under the rug and get rid of the CDC and play so fast and loose with the survivors and letting them go free is ridiculous, I admit it. IRL, this situation would be on total lockdown and there would be a small army of CDC types involved, not just two- one of which apparently has access to a medical examiner with no staff, who works in a place no one ever goes. And of course the bad guys had someone on the inside to help move things along in their favor. And on and on.

But guess what? I don’t care. This is what growing up on a steady diet of “Mystery Science Theater 3000” and bad slasher movies gets you, I suppose. What are you going to do? Well, I suppose you could stop watching if you think it sucks and does nothing for you. These things happen. Everyone has a different tolerance level for such things. But me, I can deal with it. Of course, I get paid to, so there’s that, but honestly, even if they didn’t, I’d still probably watch this, because I just have an affection for Big Dumb Horror.

So, there you go. What did you think of “The Strain”? Will you watch it in spite of the lapses in logic? Or will you watch it because of the lapses in logic? Will you laugh with it, or at it? Do you prefer your horror with at least a modicum of intelligence, or could you care less, so long as there’s a cool head explosion or brain sucking?

Start your screaming below, and feel free to disagree, by all means. As a horror fan, I’m used to the criticism, after all- it’s part of the deal, unfortunately. Haters gonna hate, and all that. But nothing will keep me from the joy of watching a dopey horror show! It’s, as they say, in the blood- and in this show, there’s plenty of blood to go around- even if it doesn’t always reach the brain.