Netflix’s Hemlock Grove is Incredibad And Totally Worth Your Time
Netflix, the online video service, has become a powerful force to be reckoned with. It’s really a double-edged sword though – in addition to having an amazing collection of classic, amazing movies and TV shows, it also has a plethora of some of the worst content to ever be filmed.
But, for this article, we’ll be examining their most recent venture into internally produced content – shows made by Netflix, for Netflix. And let me tell you, Hemlock Grove is a real doozy. Based on a book by Brian McGreevy, and produced by Hostel‘s Eli Roth, Hemlock grove is Twilight on cocaine.
Hemlock Grove is American Horror Story meets Twin Peaks. Both of those might be compliments (or insults), but both seem to fit the bill pretty well. If you liked either of these shows, feel free to press play on episode one.
Set in the fictional town of Hemlock Grove, PA, the show opens with people having sex in a car, and it’s pretty much all downhill from there. The wealthy Godfrey family rules over Hemlock Grove. Their former steel mill has given way to a massive bio-medical empire. The small town lives in the shadow of “the white tower,” the Godfrey Medical Center.
Famke Janssen plays the matriarchal Oliva Godfrey, who controls the Godfrey empire after the mysterious suicide of her husband. Her pseudo British-accent wavers in an out of authenticity; luckily she’s so incredibly beautiful, elegant, and sensual, it doesn’t really matter. Seriously, she could be reading the nutrition information on a box of table crackers and I would probably still watch this show.
Famke Janssen, looking so beautiful it’s stupid
Oliva’s son, Roman Godfrey, played by the enigmatic Bill Skarsgård, spends most of his screen time whining and/or ingesting drugs. He will be our lead for the series, and I say that with a heavy sigh. He’s soft on the eyes, but his acting and character are mainly shock-and-awe melodrama. I’m not sure if someone could have played the role any better, so I’ll give Skarsgard the benefit of the doubt and say he handled it pretty well.
Bill Skarsgard looking beautifully stupid
The Rumanceks, part of a gypsy clan, move into Hemlock grove after their Uncle dies, leaving his trailer to the other stars of Hemlock Grove, Peter and Lynda Rumancek. Peter, played by Landon Liboiron, seems to be drinking the same kool-aid as Roman Godfrey, because both of these characters spend most of the show stoned with a dopey surprised look on their face. The amazing Lili Taylor plays Peter’s mother, Lynda, and she does a great job handling the subtle cues that come with gypsy life – curses, theft, and drug dealing.
Lili Taylor, believable gypsy
I like that the show included gypsies because I feel, as far as romanticized ethnic groups go, gypsies are particularly underrepresented in modern cinema. Nothing says “mystery and erotic thrill” like transient magical hipster werewolves.
Did I mention the amount of boobs this show has? Seriously, it’s like American Horror Story grew a pair and showed what censors wouldn’t let them. There is even a semi-surprise lesbian scene that, while I expected it to happen at some point, still took me off guard. This show has the sexual energy of a Catholic all-girls school – when it finally releases, it’s borderline offensive and gets everyone pregnant. Needless to say, I was impressed.
The show has its share of twists and turns, but does manage to stay on track with the larger story – young girls keep getting brutally murdered, and the suspect appears to be a wolf-type creature. This is where the Twin Peaks angle comes in, and what really kept me watching. While American Horror Story seems to throw you around with each episode, Hemlock Grove stayed on point and kept you guessing as the main story was told. I was curious to see who the murderer was, and the reveal, while a little silly, was fulfilling.
Landon Liboiron, pouty high school student/werewolf
Should you watch this show? Well, it’s only 13 episodes and it’s on Netflix, so you can start and stop as you please. There are many many many adult themes throughout, which is kind of Netflix’s bread and butter, so take a gander if that’s your thing.
You can’t go wrong with this kind of trash TV. Even if the story is trite and melodramatic, the folks at Netflix know how to put a show together – it’s produced beautifully. The gore and the individual shots all have a solid artistic feel to it.
Hemlock Grove will by no means be winning an Emmy, but that doesn’t mean you’re too busy to enjoy this labor of love by a film company that is doing its best to bring original and fun content.
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