Werewolves, vampires, and unanswered questions abound in this psycho creepfest!
Based on a book written by Brian McGreevy, Hemlock Grove takes you on a thirteen episode ride through crazy town. The story centers around a gypsy werewolf named Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) and Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgard) who may or may not be a vampire…ish…thing.
The show starts up with a couple of creepy/strange scenes. Roman is staring out the window at an ice cream shop, and ends up having sex in his car with a girl that is apparently a prostitute. He cuts his finger with a straight razor and smears some of his blood on her arm before paying her. Peter and his mother then move into a trailer in the woods that was owned by his uncle. Peter is also apparently being stalked by a mousy novelist named Christina Wendall. (Freya Tingley) She jumps to assumptions and believes he is a werewolf, a fact that she spreads around the whole town, and for some reason people remember.
Shortly after a lavish display of Roman’s family’s wealth, you meet the rest of his family. His creepy mother Olivia (Famke Janssen) and deformed, mute sister Shelley (Nicole Boivin, Michael Andreae, and Lonnie Waugh) rounds out the freak show. The Godfrey family runs a medical research institute that plays a seemingly minor role in the overarching story.
Then, a high school girl is savagely attacked and brutally eviscerated by an unseen animal. This brings in another character shortly after. Dr. Clementine Chasseur (Kandyse McClure) starts off as an agent of the Fish and Wildlife service, but is later revealed as a monster slayer working for the catholic church. She eventually ends up hunting Peter even though she knows he is innocent. Wrap that up with Roman’s cousin Letha (Penelope Mitchell) becoming pregnant by what she believes is an angel, and you really get a feel for the atmosphere of the show.
Over the rest of the episodes you are left with a lot of questions and plot lines that seem to go nowhere. Roman and Peter become allies and later friends with the purpose of stopping the largely unseen antagonist. Soon after Roman discovers Peter is really a werewolf. He also thinks the killer is another werewolf that has gone insane.
You eventually meet Peter’s cousin Destiny (Tiio Horn) who serves as the major source of knowledge in things arcane and supernatural. This character’s insight and strange expertise is the vehicle that drives the plot along. She always has what they need; be it advice, information, or the ingredients needed to whip up a spell. (yeah, her apartment and on hand inventory is magically plot driven)
Throw in a lot of flash backs and a pretty cool dream sequence, and you have a great but confusing show. Shelley’s narration during her emails helps ground the show and endear her to the audience. This helps flesh out her role as a grounding rod for a lot of the crazy that goes around in her family.
When you find out who the killer is, it first comes as a bit of a let down. You wonder the motivations for the murders, and question the capabilities of law enforcement and all adults. It was a bit lame to see Peter go down in the last fight, but it was a needed moment that allowed everything to be wrapped up neatly. Well, aside from Letha dieing during child birth and everything going down the tubes, the stage was set for a second book and or season.
I did enjoy the amount of folklore and actual mythology used in the writing. It lent a lot of credibility to the author and the atmosphere of the show itself. It was a nice throwback to what vampires and werewolves should be, not sparkly douchebags that are attracted to emotionally underdeveloped teenagers, but cursed individuals that are trying to survive in a world that doesn’t understand.
Crazy people aside, the story threw you for a few WTF moments and really twisted your brain. The 180’s it took you through were a bit predictable at times, but not totally unwanted. In a world of lame vampire shows, Hemlock Grove was a throw back to better times. Netflix has a great thing going with the format, and it should be more widely used. I look forward to the next book/season of the show, and can’t wait to see where the characters go from here. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you check out Hemlock Grove.
OXIDIZATION LEVEL: 3/5
Hemlock Grove and all images contained in this article are property of Brian McGreevy, Gaumont International, and Netflix