One of FX’s hallmark shows is “American Horror Story,” it’s genre-breaking foray into horror. But the network has brought on the next phase of dark drama in its new series “The Strain,” focusing on modern vampires. Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse have taken on the challenge of bringing Chuck Hogan and del Toro’s novels to television, and the pair sat down in a media conference call to talk about the upcoming series, and express a lot of love to FX networks for giving them such freedom on the show.
“I will say that this show really represents my and Guillermo’s version of the story,” Cuse said. “It’s really unadulterated. I mean, yes, sure, we can’t drop F-bombs, but that’s about it.”
He also noted that the show will not run indefinitely, and even from the beginning, they pitched the series to run a set number of seasons, so it can have a definitive ending and story arc.
“The plan is that the show will run somewhere between three and five seasons, and as we work out the mythology and the storytelling for Season 2, we’ll have a better idea of exactly how long our journey is going to be,” said Cuse. “But it won’t be more than five seasons. We’re definitely writing to an endpoint, and we’re following the path as established in Guillermo and Chuck’s novels. But obviously there’s a lot that’s also going to be added…
“And I think that the goal is not to literally translate the book into a television show. You want to take the book as a source of inspiration and then make the best possible television show that you can make.”
Now if you think that creating a television series means the show won’t be scary enough or will go light on the violence and gore elements, think again. Del Toro likened drawing the line in the sand between not enough and too much to holding his audience captive in the literal sense.
It’s almost like a hostage situation, where you need to show an audience that you’re not kidding, you know?” he said. “You have to show you are going to deliver either by atmospheric, creepy moments, or by visceral punch, hopefully both. You’re going to be able to deliver the goods, the things that will make you feel queasy, will make you feel unsafe, will bring this delightful shiver that is required with the genre.
Despite the large number of horror and true crime shows on TV, it seems the public always craves more and can’t get enough of monsters, horror and death in media. Del Toro thinks that drive harkens back to primitive urges.
“From my end, what I think is very apparent is that we’ve come to the point where socially, as we are mammalian creatures, we are territorial, we are built to fight and fend off territorial challenges, reproduce, and sit a sedentary life, you know, ultimately that’s the way we’re socially and animalistically geared,” said del Toro. “And yet we live in a society that the more it isolates itself from its natural instincts, the more it seeks them in entertainment. And I think there is a vicarious thrill your brain needs, the way your body needs the exercise in a way, your brain needs to be exposed to flight and fight instincts, and you seek it through a roller coaster, or some people seek it through extreme sports, or you can seek it in genres like noir crime, horror, adventure, etc. It’s literally a biochemical mammalian biofeedback with how we are constructed to organize the storytelling in our lives, I think.”
“I completely agree with everything that Guillermo said,” added Cuse, “Although I don’t discount that some reptiles will also like the show.”
“The Strain” airs Sunday nights on FX at 10 p.m. ET.