Review by Frank Plowright
The Strain’s opening volume was almost a master class in how to construct a horror story. It began with everything normal, introduced the horrific event, and then gradually ensured that only a few people knew the improbable truth, yet fighting a very powerful force able to paint them as killers and lunatics. Thankfully the same creative team of David Lapham and Mike Huddleston remain in place to complete their adaptation of Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s opening novel.
Epidemiologist Ephraim Goodweather and his colleague and girlfriend Nina Martinez have discovered the truth about a plane full of dead people and what else it was transporting. Their proof was provided by an old Romanian gentlemen Abraham Setrakian, who had his own encounter with the ancient evil during World War II and has spent his life hunting them down. Unfortunately, along the way he briefly became involved with reclusive industrialist Eldritch Palmer who believes he can control the vampires and ensure his own immortality. There’s also a wild card, gangster Gus Elizade.
With all that in place, The Strain is set for a thrilling conclusion, and that’s just what’s provided. In the face of all the evidence, the reasonable put their preconceptions to one side and cope with reality as it is, and in true cinema fashion anyone unable to do so is doomed to a terrible fate. Huddleston is no longer restricted when it comes to showing the horrors, as this isn’t a story that ends with only a few being witness to the truth. His jagged art and off-centre viewpoints align with his use of black ink to create a constantly creepy mood.
The emotional conflicts set up in the first half come to roost here, generating a greater than usual depth to the action, and there’s no predicting how things will play out. This real treat for horror enthusiasts is combined with the first volume as The Strain Book One, and there are enough remaining plot threads dangling to justify adapting the following novel The Fall.