Monday, July 14, 2014

The Strain - Night Zero

A few quick thoughts...

This was loads of fun. I was glad to have finished the first book before the premiere so I could do a little compare and contrast. However, this is a NO SPOILER ZONE. I won’t be discussing plot points beyond the episode one.

The biggest departure from the book has to be the pacing. For instance, the book doesn’t tell us what happened on the plane before it landed. But the show introduces a few characters and immediately presents a tangible threat. While I might not agree with the change, I certainly understand....

Viewers have the attention span of gnats. If someone isn’t being disemboweled within the first five minutes there’s a strong possibility the channel will be changed. I thought the advertising was a reflection of this thinking as well. Now call me crazy, but this:


 Is a heck of a lot more compelling than this: 



But the conventional wisdom says that viewers prefer to know as much as possible rather than being teased. A parasitic vampire worm gets to the heart of the matter -- literally. I suspect it won't be long before The Master takes off the hood...


I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this 2007 TED talk with J.J. Abrams before but it’s worth repeating in here:



There are no right or wrong answers here, just storytelling choices. I prefer a suspenseful slow burn over the gotcha moments. The ‘dead’ plane on the tarmac and 8 foot coffin are excellent mystery boxes. Imagination is your best and cheapest special effect. The more you can prolong the mystery, the more invested they’ll become -- in theory anyway. There’s always the danger of the build up not living up to the payoff. I’m sure executive producer Carlton Cuse knows this all too well....




I haven't seen the ratings yet but the horror crowd should have been satisfied. Suspenseful moments, jump scares, and lots of disturbing imagery. There were some predictable tropes and cliches but they all seemed in good fun (splitting up, ignoring the crazy old guy, etc). Great job with the casting -- though I expected Setrakian to have a Jewish accent. Guillermo Del Toro's direction was masterful. Loved the cinematography, especially the scene where Ephraim and Nora are on the plane. Someone had a spot on tweet last night about the plane sequence being very reminiscent of the ill-fated Demeter in Dracula. My favorite scene was the grieving dad looking up to see his little girl standing in the doorway. The book did a great job of juggling multiple characters. It'll be interesting to see if the show follows the same course or makes a few tweaks. Looking forward to episode two.




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