The Strain- Episode 3

We open with opera and Eichorst’s freaky face. He applies silicone, makeup, hair, dentures and contact lenses to blend in as a human. He tells his reflection that he is almost done hiding. 

Eph and Nora are trying to find out what happened to the bodies. No jumping to conclusions. Did another agency take the bodies to hide the autopsy results? Was the military involved with the deaths? 

One of the survivors, Ansel, is fighting symptoms, his gums painful and bleeding, his throat sore. He has pain in his neck and ringing in his ears. His spouse is upset, she is worried for his health.

Captain Redform is in an incubator, Eph makes promises he can’t keep about how they will find out what is infecting him. And it’s Nora who recalls “the old man they had arrested at the airport.” Abraham warned them. Not sounding so crazy now.

Jim from the CDC, who was involved with allowing Augustin to leave with the coffin, meets with Eichorst who tries to pay him. Jim demands to know what was in the box. Eichorst, obviously, won’t reveal and Jim says he is going to the police. Eichorst brings up Jim’s dying wife. Ohhh, the dying wife motivation ZzzzzzzzzZzzz…. Anyway, Eichorst says that he can get Jim’s wife into a limited drug trial that could mean her salvation on top of the money. Now Jim is entirely under his thumb.

Abraham is at his hearing for the nuisance charge of tresspassing. The judge is perturbed by Abraham’s sword cane. He plays for feeble. Nora confronts him outside, Abraham says that the survivors must be destroyed. Nora is freaked out.

Ephraim’s family drama hits the fan. Zach says he wants to live with his mom, every other week with his dad. “Because his dad has a really important job.” Eph lashes out verbally (out of earshot from his son) but the ex blames it all on him, but sh says it’s not too late. That Zach and Eph can be closer, but that he has to show it, not just say it. Then it’s back to work.

Gabriel is not into rehearsal or video shoots. Apathy.

The board of health dude is visiting the home of a child who was bitten by a rat at the mouth. He catches the patriarch smoking Cuban cigars. He says that rats like cigars too. “this place has changed hands 5 times in seven years and now you know why.” Outside he hears hoards of rats.

Jim’s wife gives him the news that she’s gotten into the drug trial after all. Ansel’s dog grows suspicious of him. Then he drinks beef blood. His wife catches him. RUN FOR THE HILLS.

Gabriel’s balls are falling off. His personal doc encourages him to go to the hospital but he’s scared he’ll end up on TMZ.

Abraham employs an industrious young techie chick to find the passenger list from the plane in exchange for a video game console.

Eph and Nora are with Redform who ominously says “He’s here.”

Zach is at home watching his dad save the world on his iPad. Then he goes down stairs to see his mom. His mom is tearfully flipping through a photo album. 

Eichorst kills someone. There’s too many people on this show.

Gabriel’s hair is falling out. One of his eyes is bloodshot. Then his dick falls off.

wteq

Jim delivers news to Nora and Eph that his wife is accepted into the drug trial. They are overjoyed, but Jim cannot take the same joy; knowing how this came to be. Redform has escaped. They go on the search. Jim finds him in the basement eating raw meat. Jim alerts the others that he’s found the Captain, they rush in while the pilot attacks them, that tentacle thing coming out of his mouth. Eph bashes the vampire’s head in. But, now those at the CDC can’t deny that something truly bizarre is happening here.

Let us take a brief moment to acknowledge the stereotypes involved that allowed Eichorst to employ people to spread the epidemic. Augustin, a gang member, was bribed/blackmailed over his brother’s criminal record and his mother’s immigration status. However, a large demographic of Hispanics in NY are Puerto Rican. PR, of course, being part of the US. Why so many people forget this is baffling to me. Now, Augustin could be Central American of Cuban, I don’t know, I didn’t see that it was noted, if it was when Eichorst showed the documents then feel free to correct. But portrayals that lead to the equation: poor + Hispanic = illegal is problematic as all fuck. Because chances are they’d be Nuyorican. (And yes, I am pointing this out even though del Toro is Mexican, it’s still a stereotype regardless)

And then of course we have Jim’s dying wife. A wife invented so that feeble Jim would have motivation for betraying his title and dooming the US to vampirism. A wife that will do nothing else to advance the plot in anyway, if I had to venture a guess.

But on the good? Kelly Goodweather (Natalie Brown, 2004’s Day of the Dead) gets a bit more sympathetic. And Nora and Eph don’t have untimely makeout sessions. Wooo! 

But there are too many people on this show. And not enough Abraham. 

The Strain- episode 2

Augustin transports the “cargo”

Eph is at JFK, he finds his smashed up colleague. Did they say his name was Peter Bishop?! Nora sees that the same “white foam” that is separated blood proteins are all that remains. 

The attorney argues that they are not needed under quarantine. She works to try to get them sprung. Palmer is trying to get them sprung as well. Eichorst pays a visit to Abraham who is still being held at the airport. Eichorst refers to Abraham by the number he had tattooed on his arm at the concentration camp. Augustin returns home, tells off his lazy brother for bringing stolen goods into the house.

Eph and Nora try to find out why the quarantine is being broken. They say that a quarantine would “shut down trade” …there’s no way that’s accurate, but okay. They pay a visit to the pilot who tells them that the mysterious “box” was loaded on by “officials with badges”

Eph receives a text from his son while he and Nora are examining the parasites. He says that what they are working on Nora convinces him that he’s making his soon to be ex accurate, that his work is more important than his son. 

The rockstar and the lawyer are experiencing ringing in their ears, the lawyer is hiding that her gums are bleeding profusely. 

Eph’s wife says “I’m so glad you’re handling the emergency with the plane” while Matt is turning his office into a gameroom for Zach. Eph shakes the other man’s hand trying to keep peace just after her friend Diane tells Eph off for not remembering her name. She makes some biting comments implying that he’s self centered. Eph tries to talk to Zach about the custody hearing and that he wants joint custody. Then Eph is at an AA meeting. Trying to prove to himself and everyone else that he can be reliable… but he comes clean; that he is self centered, emotionally distant, that he’s upset about his situation, that he’s sarcastic and bitter. That he can’t lose Zach, because he’s all he has left.

Gabriel is having a foursome with three ladies but can’t get it up, he impulsively bites one, hard enough for her to drip blood as she exits, he screams at them to leave and laps the blood off the floor.

Pilot Redford is laid up, he says that his skin is crawling and he feels like he swallowed a razor. Eph sees the worms crawling under his skin.

The man who punched Eph calls him and says that his little girl came home to him. Alive. Eph thinks the man is seeing ghosts. He and Nora are heading to the morgue. Once they get there they find no signs of life… and that the body bags are empty, they find the ME’s smashed glasses.

Palmer goes to see “the box.” But it is empty except for the grave dirt. Then the master stands before him.

Gary goes to check on Emma. Emma’s becoming a creep. She says she’s hungry, then her hair starts to fall out. Gary, still in shock pretends this is par for the course and tries to get her to dry off. But she attacks him, a fleshy tentacle springs from her mouth and sucks him dry through his neck

Both Robin Atkin Downes and Robert Maillet (upcoming films Septic Man and Hercules) are credited as playing “the Master” I’, unclear as to who is under the hood. Eph leaving to have personal probs while vampires are getting loose really takes away from the suspense …but it is more realistic. This trope though, with the main protag as an addict/alcoholic… most people can’t do their jobs messed up. So Eph is the top of his field… how did he achieve this station while boozing? He doesn’t seem to make friends easily. 

Not enough Abraham. 

The Strain- episode 1

Considering all the weird ass things that have happened with planes recently, this is very… uhh… timely. On an international flight out of Berlin. A stewardess is preparing passengers for landing. She’s called to the front of the plane by the pilot, deals with a couple trouble passengers and gets to the front. The pilot is freaking out, says there is something alive in the cargo hold. The stewardess tries to calm him so he doesn’t incite panic, but then something hops through the floor.

A man that can’t have it all!!! Dr. Ephraim Goodweather of the CDC is late for his third custody counselling session. He and his wife are separated. His life is work. She’s started seeing someone. Matt, he’s an operations manager at Sears. Ephraim thinks of him as a manchild. His soon to be ex-wife says that Eph was never present enough, that he got straight A’s at his job but isn’t what she needs. He doesn’t want to give up on their marriage, but it gets all sorts of “this is what we’re talking about as his phone rings and he’s called to investigate the plane.

Old man pawnbroker, Abraham, gets a visit from two thugs looking to unload a stolen watch, they try to grab money from the counter but he grabs an arm and threatens to slit the criminal’s wrist open. The men flee and The old man sees the news about a plane from Berlin and he knows immediately that “it is him” and he goes downstairs to talk to a heart in a jar about it. He says he doesn’t know if he has the strength to do it all over again. The heart responds, beating. He asks it if it is hungry and pierces a finger tip, then he drips the blood into the jar. 

Abraham gets one hell of an entrance.

Ephraim complains to his hot partner (and former/current? lover), Nora, about how his counselling went as they suit up. They get on the plane and go through the lengthy process of searching the plane and examining passengers for clues as to what may have happened… when a handful of passengers start to wake up.

The four surviving passengers get quarantined as they decide what to tell families and the press. Attorney, pilot, rockstar …and a nerdy guy. Eph and the CDC find a huge coffin …with a latch on the inside. Elsewhere, Eph’s ex-wife, son and the new guy are watching the news. Matt tries to make light of it, Zack says, “Don’t worry. Wat ever it is, my dad will take care of it.” But he sends a text to his dad to ask if he’s ok.

Eph smiles as he texts back, reassuring his son. His partner catches him and gives him a pep talk before he addresses the public, they hug and he kisses her hair. Which is sweet but also leaves his colleague alone inside while the CDC packs up the cargo. He thinks that he hears something and goes to investigate.

He encounters a shrouded figure with bloody extra limbs that claws his neck and sucks blood through those extra arms. The man is emptied of his blood, gets his neck snapped and skull cracked in.

Completely different manner of death than everyone on the plane..

Elsewhere an old man enlists the help of a Hispanic thug (and wanna be boxer) to drive cargo out of the airport. The man has provided a truck and security badge. In exchange for this errand, the old man says that he will clear the other man’s brother’s criminal record and take care of his mom’s “immigration status.” 

206 passengers are dead and they don’t know why.  One of the parents punches him in the face. Soon to be ex watches from home.The victims have no red blood cells, white foam appears in their veins. blood proteins have been separated. 

As they are trying to find what became of the coffin, the medical examiner is examining the organs and we see bunches of those tiny worms writhing around inside. The examiner drops a heart full of a swarm of worms as they try to get under his glove. suddenly, the deceased pop up around him and attack him.

The coffin escapes. Augustin calls his mother to check in on her. The old man who hired him tells his cohorts that the cargo is safe and that those on the plane will return home to their loved ones.

And they do, we see a young girl from the plane, Emma, whose father had punched Ephraim  return home to her father alone.

Corey Stoll is incredibly cast as Ephraim. In the same way that I think Halle’s role on “Extant” is amazing at challenging domestic gender roles (Halle’s Molly doesn’t have a life centered around family or pregnancy, she thinks of her career and her own immediate safety/health) Ephraim is a good father but can’t seem to “have it all” with a demanding job and stable home life. 

Creepy parasites that turn people into vampires and the CDC comprises main characters? Well, that’s very V-Wars

Ephraim’s partner is a cliche. Men and women are never friends. She’s a spicy Latina. I imdb’d it and she only appears to be in 3 eps. 

David Bradley (Abraham) and the creepy effects are what really does it for me here.

31 Horrifying Days- Day 16: Quarantine (2008)

I haven’t watched a zombie movie in a while and I’d never seen this one. Well, no one ever says the Z word. But it features humans affected by a rage-virus much in the same style as 28 Days Later and affected animals like in Resident Evil that fall ill and then try to eat your freaking face off, the afflicted are unhindered by pain, unable to speak and without reason. They are sensitive to light and hard to kill.

The modern interpretation of a zombie.

Jennifer Carpenter (“Dexter”, Exorcism of Emily Rose) stars as Angela Vidal, a television reporter working on a fluff piece about LA’s Bravest. She, along with cameraman Scott (played by Steve Harris, “Awake” and the voice of Clayface on “The Batman”) hang out with the firefighters at the station: shoot hoops, eat chilli, make small talk, then they head out on a call.

The call is medical and they arrive at an apartment building along with the police before the EMTs. When they get there they head upstairs and find an addled looking woman with blood around her collar and then the bodies start dropping. Sometimes literally. One of the firemen gets thrown down 3 floors straight onto the tile. They try to get outside, but the police (and later National Guard and CDC) have them locked in. Even with an injured officer and firefighter. Those inside search for alternate routes and are met with assault rifles and ordered to back away from windows. The police won’t tell them anything and soon they are without cell reception and electricity (this one’s weird. The elevator is on “auxiliary power” and a resident’s TV still works, but there’s no lights. Doesn’t add up except to add to the atmosphere). Angela tells Scott to keep rolling, that people won’t believe this. 

And he does. Of course, one of the things I dislike about mockumentary/found footage films is the implausibility of someone lugging a camera around with rage zombies actively trying to eat their face. He does bash one of the turned over the head with it. The lens gets bloodied. Slightly off camera Scott falls apart while cleaning the blood. Some of the camera angles don’t work. He’d be taping an infected chasing them right till they were face to face but then be first through the door to get the shot of everyone coming in. That’s a nitpick, though. At one point the camera is actually integral because conditions are pitch dark and it has night vision.

It is really good. And the characters work well, the first responders are freaked out but ready for a fight and regular people like Angela and Scott are not built for this. After seeing a firefighter get up walking on a broken leg and a little girl rip out her mom’s throat… she’s done. “I’m done. I’m not moving.” There’s a wealthier white man who wants to exercise his god-given right to die in his own apartment, a young Indian-American couple with nice clothes and a bathroom full of prescription sedatives and narcotics, a pair of North Africans who don’t speak English, the tough cop who is at first reluctant to go against orders (Columbus Short, “Scandal”), the hot firefighter who lives the longest (Jay Hernandez, Hostel, “Gang Related”) and a veterinarian (Greg Germann, “NCIS”) who diagnoses the infected with a mutated form of rabies.

The CDC arrives. The CDC also tells them that a blood test will confirm if they are infected. The veterinarian tells them that they’d need a brain sample. Everyone freaks the hell out. The CDC ends up getting eaten and no one gets their brain sampled. 

As numbers dwindle, the search for a way out leads to an unnecessary plot point. The virus was cultivated by some freakshow in rats first in the name of some cult. It didn’t add much to the plot. It didn’t need it. Dark apartment complex full of relatable people search for a way out while on the run from hyper-rabid former friends.

There are a few females in the film but no girl-power to speak of. I feel as though Angela’s flailing and inability to find a weapon suited her TV diva character… but I wish that there had been an Officer Deb Morgan somewhere.

4.25/5 (I fucking love zombies)

But it should be noted: this movie is based on the Spanish horror film [REC] from 2007, the main character’s name is even the same. I’ll definitely be watching the original.