Hemlock Grove is a 2013 Netflix supernatural horror thriller television series created by Brian McGreevy, starring Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgard, Landon Liboiron and Penelope Mitchell. Based on the novel of the same name, the show examines the strange happenings in the fictional town of Hemlock Grove and the relationship between Roman Godfrey (Skarsgard), heir to the town’s wealthy Godfrey family, befriends the town’s newcomer, Peter Rumancek (Liboiron).
- Great performances
- Good, complex story
- Good use of CGI
- Good use of practical effects
- Good use of make-up
- Great characters
- Good score
- Rushed subplots
Plot: The story is really interesting as well as original and does take his time to gradually unravel certain twists and secrets Within the story. The series does have interesting subplots such as the the mysterious cult bent on eliminating the supernatural element in Hemlock Grove, Doctor Spivak, and the Upir virus that has Upir killing other Upir however they do feel rushed and not fully extended but they do feel lackluster. The ending is one of the most messed up of endings to a series though it does leave off on a hopeful note. (4 out of 5)
Characters: The series does have some really good characters. Peter (Liboiron) is a main protagonist and a pretty likeable character. He does get put it into some pretty bad positions most notably because of his heritage and his relationship to Roman. He is generally a good guy. Roman (Skarsgard) is a main protagonist and somewhat of a more complicated and darker character. Because of his upbringing and his heritage he is a bit of a douche bag however he does show character in certain moments. Olivia Godfrey (Janssen) is one of the series main antagonist and she is a total douche. She’s one of those characters who you love to hate and is completely self-centered caring only for herself and what others can bring to her life. There is clearly a love-hate relationship between her and her son. Shelly is Roman’s sister and one of those characters who you can root for. She’s likable, she’s sweet, she’s nice. Despite her deformity she does show a lot of personality which does develop throughout the course of the series. Dr. Johann Pryce (Joel de la Fuente) is like a mad scientist but at the same time isn’t evil with it. As much as he is a man of science he shows a lot character and Olivia’s hold over him does make him a sympathetic character. Destiny (Tiio Horn) is a great female lead that does help to balance Peter’s personality. (4 out of 5)
Cast: Great performances by the main and supporting cast. The show’s two leads, Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron, give good performances and have great chemistry together. Janssen portrays Olivia brilliantly. The cast also includes Joel de la Fuente, Tiio Horn, Penelope Mitchell, Freya Tingley, Dougray Scott, Camille De Pazzis, Madeleine Martin, Madeline Brewer, J. C. MacKenzie, and Kandyse McClure. (4 out of 5)
Visuals: Visually the series has a kind of morbid look to it. The creature effects and transformations are pretty good for the most part. There is a good use of practical effects as well as make up effects. The Shelley makeup effects look good (even though it’s gross as hell). The infected Upir designs look good. Peter’s transformations are really good and very intense. (4 out of 5)
Score: The score is pretty decent. Nathan Barr composes a good soundtrack that definitely sets the mood for the series. (3 out of 5)
Writing: One of the problems when it comes to the script is how the writing opens up certain subplots but never actually concluding it successfully. The White Mask Cult was an interesting premise and it would’ve been cool to have seen all of the supernatural creatures being targeted as well as the disease that effects only Upirs. The series does balance some humor among the horror, drama, and romance effectively. Aside from a terrible ending (well actually more messed up than terrible) and some really messed up deaths (that feel more rushed than anything), the writing is decent. Brian McGreevy does setup a pretty interesting world. A lot of the conclusions to story arcs or subplots should’ve been done better. (3 out of 5)
The Verdict: In the end, Hemlock Grove is a really good series. There are some issues with the subplots and the script (especially with the characters), but the series has fantastic performances (especially by the two leads), great characters, good score, interesting story, and a good use of special effects. Hemlock Grove gets 4 out of 5.