The Strain Complete Box (DVD) – Series Review
Follow Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Episodes: 46
Duration: 42 minutes (per episode)

The Strain Complete Box (DVD) – Series Review

Site Score
6.2
Good: Original take on vampires, Acting, Characters (except for Zach)
Bad: Fuck you Zach, Serious dip in quality after season one
User Score
4.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 4.3/10 (3 votes cast)

The Strain is a series that aired from 2014 up to 2017 for four consecutive seasons. The series revolved around an original take on the vampire story, where there was one entity that turned the city of New York, and later the world, into one hive of vampiric activity. The creators made the story about vampires somewhat relevant again, mainly because of their parasitic nature in The Strain, making them fearsome, especially because of their hive-like mentality. We were curious to revisit New York, which is now extra dangerous at night. As this is a discussion of four seasons rather than one, some spoilers may follow below, but we’ll keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, while making sure you can learn all there is to know about this box-set.

As this is a review about a complete box-set, rather than a separate season, we feel obliged to tell you more about the box itself. The entire box comes with a carton shell, which has nice artwork that suits the series. The different cases (one per season) also have similar artwork, in different color tones, which make sure the entire outward picture looks great, amazing even for a box with a limited amount of whistles and bells. After opening the different cases a few inconsistencies and cheaper finishes become clear however. For starters, all the discs per box (always four or three discs per season) are on a single spindle. This means that you’ll always have to take out all the discs when you’re ready with a disc, to be able to grab the next disc, and keep the used disc out of the way by placing it at the bottom, or at least underneath those that still have to be watched. It could have been nice if the discs had separate trays within the case, but we reckon this costs a few cents more to produce. The next issue is the totally different art style used on the discs of the different seasons, unlike the artwork on the boxes themselves. It somehow feels as if many editions of the original separate releases were recalled and then added to the box for the complete edition, which could explain the differentiating artwork, or even the lack of any printed pictures on the discs of season 4. The inconsistencies can also be noticed when you boot up the discs as each season also has a different menu design, which is also a bit of a turnoff when buying an entire box, hoping it would be somewhat consistent in design.

As for the story of the series, it all revolves around a vampiric plague that breaks out in New York. The disease is originally discovered by Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) of the CDC, who believes something horrid is going on, while other government officials wave the outbreak, which started on a plane to NY, away. The good doctor is soon after approached by a very old man by the name of Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), who tells him that ‘strigoi’, aka vampires are behind the occurance of weird and unexplainable events. While Ephraim doubts whatever Setrakian is saying at first, the old man’s strange tales become reality soon after, costing the lives of many. Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) believes the old vampire hunter a lot quicker, but she can’t stomach what has to be done to save the world, as those infected can’t be cured, but have to be decapitated and burned in order to keep the parasite from spreading. The task sounds fairly manageable if the virus wasn’t controlled by an entity called ‘The Master’ (Multiple actors throughout the series), who can command every infected person. The Master’s second in command, Thomas Eichorst (Richard Sammel), is a man who worked in the death camps during the second World War for the Nazi regime, but later got turned in becoming pretty much the only free willed strigoi. This brutish man has known Setrakian for quite some time, and it’s clear to see that both parties want each other dead in the most painful way possible.

The party expands rapidly with the help of Vasily Fet (Kevind Durand), a pest control worker, and Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas), a professional hacker. While the first season already goes at a rapid pace, it all slows down to prolong the series until the credits start to roll for the fourth and last season. In the meantime we also get to learn about Ephraim’s family, such as his ex-wife Kelly (Natalie Brown) and his young son Zach (Ben Hyland/ Max Charles), the latter becoming one of the most annoying characters ever created for a fictional series.

The Strain is one of those series that went on too long, even though it’s actually one of the shorter ones around. The series dips in quality after the first season, and while some parts are still well constructed, others get very annoying and tedious. For example, the subplot with Zach, who is a very annoying dipshit by the way, becomes utterly annoying the further we dive into the rabbit hole that is The Strain. Zack was originally played by Ben Hyland, who was a very appealing child actor, especially as he showed a timid and overall pleasant young man. For some reason Hyland was replaced by Max Charles, a young actor that has a lot of experience under his belt in terms of voice acting. Sadly, his outward appearance, and his demeanor made him a nuisance from the very first episode of the second season. Not only do you want to dropkick him in the face with both feet at once after mere seconds on the screen, you wish the series would kill him off as soon as possible. We’ll have to disappoint you, as this bratty character is kept alive until the end and will certainly get under your skin like it did with us. Of course, this is not the only reason the series faltered after the first season, but it surely is a big key issue with what transpires on the screen. Other than that, it’s mainly because the first season was building up to a proper conclusion, only to take a step back and prolong everything that is going on for another three seasons, simply because the series had a proper following. Don’t get us wrong, the series still has a fair amount of charm, but the creators should have known when to quit and give the series a more graceful (and quicker) ending than it currently has due to stretching it out.

Safe for the recasting for the character of Zach, the main cast will actually be the main cast for the entire series, safe for a few characters that get less relevant over time, or sadly didn’t make the cut to see how the vampire plague would end. Overall you’ll get a fairly decent cast to look at, playing their roles convincingly, evolving throughout the entire four seasons. While some characters may feel a bit more redundant than others,  the main cast members feel important and appealing enough to give the series a proper backbone, which was certainly needed with the decrease in qualitative writing over the last three seasons.

This collection comes with a hefty amount of special features, which certainly add a lot of value for fans of the series. Not only will you get deleted scenes and gag reels, you’ll also get inside information about the series, its characters, some locations and much more. There is also a music video to be found and a complete web series about The Strain. While some of the extra content is spread on different discs per season, making it somewhat hard to properly find what disc to watch when you’re done with the series, we commend the creators for adding this much extra content.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a very original take on how vampires are seen in books or movies, then The Strain will certainly give you your money’s worth. The overall series is still a fairly amusing watch, even with the clear descent in quality after the curtain closed on the first season. We don’t know why the series was prolonged as long as it currently is, but you’ll be treated to a decent cast (except Max Charles), a fairly intriguing storyline and a few bits of goo and gore along the way. The box also has a fair amount of extras to explore, which will certainly add a bit of value to this complete edition of the series.

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Rating: 4.3/10 (3 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
The Strain Complete Box (DVD) - Series Review, 4.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Ibuki
Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

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