FX turns vampire genre on its head

We are all too familiar with vampires and zombies in movies and on TV these days. Many people grow weary of these topics, believing they are too cliché.

This is what some, including myself, were afraid of when TV spots for “The Strain” started appearing at the beginning of the summer. Though it caught my interest and I was excited to watch it, I was also unsure if it could distance itself from the monotonous direction these types of shows tend to lean toward. After watching the first episode, I immediately realized I was wrong.

Instead of revolving around a presumed group of murderous blood-sucking vampires, “The Strain” focuses more on how a contagious virus begins and causes the possibility of spreading all over the world. The show takes a more scientific and logical approach to the outbreak, mainly because the central characters are skilled epidemiologists dealing with the causes and effects of health and disease conditions.

Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City, is ordered to investigate a mysterious Boeing 767 airliner that lands at JFK International Airport with quiet communication channels, window shades pulled down and lights turned out on the plane.

As his team investigates the plane, they find all but four passengers on board dead. However, these four are exhibiting strange symptoms. Autopsies are done on those from the airliner, leading them to discover horrific biological changes to the bodies. As if this outbreak is not creepy enough, those who were pronounced dead on the plane begin waking up to make their way back to loved ones. Let us just say the results are not “happily ever after” material.

While Eph and his team are investigating this virus, they meet mysterious pawnshop owner Abraham Setrakian, whom they discover to be very knowledgeable about the occurrence. He informs them that this ancient and malicious strain has happened once before and needs to be stopped before it spreads any further.

The series is based off of a trilogy of books written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan in 2009. “The Fall” followed in 2010 and “The Night Eternal” completed the series in 2011. Initially, Toro envisioned the story to be a TV series, but the idea was not picked up by a network until FX agreed to a pilot episode in 2012. Toro and Hogan both created the TV series and hoped to make three to five more seasons. “The Strain” has already been renewed for a second season.

“The Strain” is filled with an impressive, experienced cast that pushes you further into the story every week. Leading man Corey Stoll from “House of Cards” plays Eph, Mia Maestro from “Alias” plays Eph’s second in command, Dr. Nora Martinez and David Bradley from “Harry Potter” and “Game of Thrones” plays Abraham.

As one can imagine, this show is full of gore and violence, promising to get more bloody and intense as the series goes on. So, it is no surprise that the show is rated “MA” for mature audiences and airs at 10 p.m. on FX after youngsters are in bed.

Though I would not recommend this show to the squeamish, the gore and scary faces are some of the things that draw me to the show, because of how it differs from the classic vampire horror we are used to. Instead of fangs, nice hair and pale skin, you get loss of hair, worms under the skin, and a strange tentacle that emerges from the mouth to suck blood. If that does not get you curious enough to watch the show, I do not know what will.

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