Working from a screenplay by returning writer David S. Goyer, Guillermo del Toro probably didn’t know it at the time, but he directs “Blade II” (2002) as a trial run for “The Strain,” his 2014-17 TV series. The creature effects are strikingly similar across both projects, namely the next strain of vampires. In “Blade II,” their human mouths open “Predator”-style, and in “The Strain,” they reveal tubes that can strike from a distance — “Alien”-style, to the extreme.
Director and co-writer Guillermo del Toro puts a lot of winning elements from successful films into a blender and delivers “The Shape of Water” (2017), now in theatrical wide release. Mixing familiar substance with loads of style, this Oscar-y yet accessible movie carves off bits of “E.T.,” “Splash,” “Splice,” “The Help,” “Big Fish” and “Beauty and the Beast,” and throws in Michael Shannon’s skill at playing a villain and Octavia Spencer’s specialty as the chatty best friend to create a foundation for a sweet love story.
A couple seasons ago on “The Walking Dead,” Rick and the gang agree to march toward Washington, D.C., on Eugene’s promise that there was a governmental structure in place working against the zombie plague. While the characters never spoke in-depth about the question of whether the government – which demonstrably failed to stop the zombie plague — should be trusted, I felt strongly that once the gang got to D.C., they would not find a safe government-run utopia.
Entertainment trends are a funny thing. Horror movie releases have slowed to a trickle, whereas a decade ago there was a new one in theaters every week. But horror TV shows were rare then, whereas today, the boob tube is covered with them. Even though horror is still scarier on the big screen for obvious reasons, TV is making a strong case as a home for horror in 2015 — some of the best horror TV ever made, actually.
Through five episodes, “The Strain” (8 p.m. Central Sundays on FX) is already shaping up to be one of the best horror TV shows ever. Its combination of wonderful Guillermo del Toro-style mood along with believable modern special effects would make for a fine horror flick, but the fact that it’s a 13-episode miniseries allows for more depth.
On the heels of “Fargo,” FX continues its miniseries winning streak with “The Strain” (9 p.m. Central Sundays on FX), based on a novel and Dark Horse comic book series. Like “Fargo” and the more open-ended “The Bridge” (now in its second season), “The Strain” is deliciously and darkly stylish, as one would expect from co-producer Guillermo del Toro, who is also credited as a writer and director on some upcoming episodes.