Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan bring their vampire novel series to life with the help of Lost co-creator and executive producer Carlton Cuse this summer on FX as they get in on the Sunday night madness with Night Zero here on Tube Talk!
Come, my SPOILERS of the night!
The Strain: Season 1: Episode 1: Night Zero: GRADE: B
Damon Lindelof went to HBO and helped make The Leftovers. Not one for being left out, fellow Lost showrunner Carlton Cuse went to FX and helped bring film legend Guillermo del Toro’s vampire invasion comic book, with co-creator Chuck Hogan to life this summer as well.
Our story here is that of a plane landing in JFK Airport where two hundred people appear to be dead and four survivors along with. Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his team at the CDC investigate and go deeper when it appears bodies are disappearing from the morgues. Along with help and information of the mysterious man who may have answers to the situation (David Bradley). Humanity’s future hangs in the balance.
I haven’t heard or read this book until the series was announced. del Toro himself I find fascinating. I find Pan’s Labyrinth an engrossing dark fairy tale and I’m mostly a fan of his work, and Pacific Rim was fucking awesome and I will hear no more of that from this point cause its awesome.
Wait where were we? Right the new FX pilot. del Toro not only co-wrote the pilot, with Hogan himself, but directs and his style is evident not just with choice camera techniques and placements but some of his cinematography and production design. It really works and what else is evident is del Toro’s fondness of great heightened tension with well rounded pacing that knows how to keep a viewer on edge. It really helps with this extended pilot where it does deliver the scares. The opening on the airplane is a great example where its in a closed quarters and with the music helping out as well as the thunderous weather, this was really starting to remind me a lot about how Fringe opened with its pilot but you make me think of Fringe, its a great thing, and it goes from there. The creepy tension and feeling that comes from it helps set the tone so perfectly.
Corey Stoll is an actor who has a very versatile range having seen him as Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Peter Russo of Netflix’s House of Cards. He’s very good in his role despite some of the questionable dialogue that doesn’t really sound good. He’s in a workhorse dad who’s going through a separation and trying desperately to hold on to his family just as the big event happens. I think this could get better based on Stoll’s strong ability to carry a script, but here he does work very well. Which the script does beg to mention, I love del Toro, but often his stuff seems to get lost in translation. Lines like, “You’re getting straight As at work, but your absent at home,” are kinda cringe worthy and some other areas where the writing does lack.
Stoll’s wonderful but Game of Thrones and Harry Potter veteran David Bradley as Professor Abraham Setrakian who has a great introduction with people trying to rob him but when given a deeper look into his shop, he clearly has a deep knowledge of events to come and having a vagueness about that to a character would be needed for something like this and I like how Bradley does play the role with a mystery about him and will be the obvious key to humanity’s hope.
Both are the standouts among the cast, the rest are okay to well not being interesting, or in the case of one the survivors, already unlikable (Jack Kesy). The show does fine with its human story and introducing us to our villains who want vampires, again like Bradley, with a good sense of vagueness. Its fine work.
But going back to the direction, its the best thing here about the pilot. del Toro’s pacing and heightened sense of tension within the good pacing delivers some wonderful scares. Cinematography works into how these parts are excellent too with the lighting out and inside the plane. It adds to a creepy mood brought on and with a scene in the docking area of the airport where a brutal murder happens to Not Quite Ray Liotta but it jump scares me.
The aesthetic outweighs performances and writing here but the lead performances are able to help lead them despite lacking in some parts of the supporting area and some the dialogue here. The horror moments are spot on and hit their necessary targets that the pilot does leave an impact in the way it was presented and handled with such care hat makes me interested in the series.