The Strain: Critics, Viewers Give Mixed Reviews To New FX Series

After a shocking ad campaign and lots of hype, The Strain debuted on FX on Sunday and is already dividing critics and viewers.

The Strain‘s pilot opens with a creepy voiceover as viewers see a plane descending to JFK airport in New York City. When the plane full of dead passengers arrives, the Center for Disease Control steps in to investigate.

Lead by Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and and biochemist Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro), they then embark on the main quest of the series: discovering the origin of “the strain.”

The enemy? An outbreak of vampire worms that invade a human host, which migrate into their hearts to control them.

The Strain is not for the squeamish, the Los Angeles Times’ T.L. Stanley explains:

“The undead in this horror series are truly terrifying. They’re also parasitic and viral, the product of a kind of contagion that single-mindedly seeks out hosts. They have slimy, retractable stingers in their mouths that latch onto their victims’ necks, making surgical-grade incisions for blood sucking, and their copious poop smells like ammonia.”

One of goriest scenes from The Strain‘s pilot comes as a coroner performs autopsies on the plane passengers. To the soundtrack of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline, the coroner watches as the dead bodies reanimate.

The Strain is the latest in a series of supernatural TV thrillers, but this has none of the sex appeal of True Blood or The Walking Dead. Director Guillermo del Toro told TVLine he wants to reinvent the vampire genre with The Strain.

“We’d had our fill of vampire we were feeling sorry for, so it was time to go back to the conception of vampires as really scary, dangerous creatures… You have to show [the audience] that either by atmospheric, creepy moments or by visceral punches — hopefully both — you’re going to be able to deliver the goods…”

Viewers used Twitter to weigh in on The Strain.

Actor Corey Stoll’s unrealistic wig generated much talk during the movie-length pilot.

The second episode of The Strain, will air on FX next Sunday. FX is already giving fans some insight into the next episode, titled “The Box”:

“The four survivors begin manifesting strange symptoms, but Eph and Nora’s attempt to quarantine them is thwarted as the disinformation campaign begins. Meanwhile, in jail, Setrakian receives a surprise visit from an old — a very old — acquaintance.”