TV Review: Hemlock Grove

Monday 10 November 2014 by

Hemlock Grove: a season-long review

Season One spoilers ahead

Hemlock Grove, Netflix, TV, Horror, Supernatural

Netflix has some pretty spectacular Original Series on their books – from Orange is the New Black to House of Cards. But, rather than go in to those, I thought I would try one of the lesser known ones – Hemlock Grove.

Simply, this is a werewolf story. The town of Hemlock Grove is a creepy, messed up town at the best of times, the arrival of Peter (Landon Liboiron) and his mother seems to set in to motion a set of events that wraps up everyone in lies and murder.

The brutal murder of a schoolgirl triggers a hunt for her killer – but who (or what) killed her, and how is the Godfrey family (the most powerful family in town) connected?

So step aside from the occasional less-than-reliable acting, this is not a cute and fluffy werewolf story, and this is not your ordinary supernatural town. It plays the balance between what’s real and what isn’t (is it supernatural, or the result of some dodgy science at the Godfrey laboratory?) and does it well. It builds up the tension throughout the season with ease and skill, and the soundtrack is frankly brilliant, adding to the drama and hauling the plot along.

There are a few unnecessarily gruesome moments and over-sexualised scenes, but for the most part there isn’t anything too over the top. Plus, Famke Janssen as Olivia Godfrey is pure class. And although some of the acting can be a bit cringe-worthy, this cast is certainly up the task when it comes to creep-factor. From Dougray Scott, to Battlestar Galactica heavyweights Kandyse McClure and Aaron Douglas, and Skarsgård brother Bill, the cast hold up well under scrutiny when it comes to horror-themed stories.

The story quickly digresses from its main plot point of the murdered girl, throwing in as many dead-ends, new plot points and mysteries as it can possibly achieve – often without explaining any of them. This can be hugely frustrating if you try to wrap up all the threads and make sense of it all as you go, but if you simply let go and trust that they will explain it all in the end it works, with extra sparkle. And fortunately, they really do…

This is certainly a series with the long view – there’s nothing neat and tidy about it though. It doesn’t wrap up neatly, and though there are nicely finished story arcs, there a large parts of it that lets you hang on for the next season’s round of mysteries.

To be honest, this season finishes stronger than it begins, so requires a certain amount of faith when you begin. As the mystery deepens (and it becomes clearer what, exactly, the mystery is), so does the series improve. The clever camera angles and cinematic details combined with a truly brilliant soundtrack makes the final four episodes tense and deeply compelling to watch (in fact, 10: What God Wants was heart-stoppingly good and it only gets better).

This is worth a watch if you enjoy the supernatural/horror side of stories. Hemlock Grove is perhaps the more underrated of the Netflix Original Series (and without having watched the others it’s hard to say whether or not this is justified), but is definitely something with the potential to grow in to a success.

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