The Big Apple has a problem – and it’s not street crime, congestion or Donald Trump. A plane lands at JFK airport with no further contact being made with the control tower. Dr Ephraim Goodweather investigates on behalf of the Centre for Disease Control, finding only four survivors. The four appear initially to be healthy and are released against Dr Goodweather’s advice... but that’s when everything hits the fan.
They are carrying a deadly vampiric virus, transmitted by translucent worms that burrow under the skin, infecting the bloodstream, mutating the host into a feral, ravenous monster, seeking blood which they will take through a retractable tentacle that shoots out of their mouths. These aren’t your Twilight “scampering through the trees, glowing, teen angst ridden” vampires – these are hungry predators who prey on their loved ones out of instinct. And, as they change, they look more like Max Shreck’s Nosferatu than Robert Pattinson. Thankfully.
The virus spreads quickly throughout the city, and the sinister reason for its sudden arrival becomes clear as Goodweather finds some unlikely allies in his battle against the increasing army of vampires. Chief among them is beloved British actor David Bradley as a Jewish pawn shop broker who has encountered this evil before while incarcerated in a Nazi concentration camp, and is now dedicating his remaining years to eradicating it, like a modern-day Van Helsing. Although in this case, substitute Count Dracula for a vampire leader called The Master. Yes, we know that’s been done before in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but this Master is truly the stuff of nightmares and is tougher to kill than you’d expect.
As a horror series, this is one of the best, with its 46-episode run being just long enough to tell the whole story without succumbing to padding or outstaying its welcome, unlike The Walking Dead. There is a real sense of urgency and mounting dread as the series unfolds. It never slows down, it never lets up. The creator behind this gem is, of course, no stranger to horror fans – Guillermo Del Toro, who lent his immense directorial talents to the pilot episode, and served as executive producer throughout the series, having co-written the trilogy of books that started it all with Chuck Hogan.
Included in this box set are all 46 episodes, along with the usual array of behind the scenes documentaries, the odd audio commentary, deleted scenes and a gag reel. Of particular interest to those of us who are completists is the inclusion of all ten webisodes of The Strain: Under Siege, the short companion series.
THE STRAIN / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: COREY STOLL, KEVIN DURLAND, DAVID BRADLEY, RICHARD SAMMEL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW