Thursday, June 6, 2013

Guest Review of Hemlock Grove by Kate Horvat

Review: Hemlock Grove
Written by Kate Horvat from

Hemlock Grove is Netflix’s next successor in its new empire of original series. After its successful launch of House of Cards, Netflix is doing a great job of producing binge-worthy original content. Over the span of two days, I devoured the entire 13-episode first season. And I can honestly say I am hungry for more.

From executive produce Eli Roth, of Hostel and Cabin Fever fame, Hemlock Grove is being touted as a cross between Twin Peaks and True Blood. With its peculiar characters, murder mystery and a tantalizing slow reveal - it certainly is living up to the hype. And with a healthy dose of sex, murder and gore, we are quickly reminded that this isn’t your grandmother’s typical network programing. 

Upon a voyeuristic presentation of the town and the people, we are suddenly grounded into the story when high school student, Brooke Bluebell, is horrifically murdered by an unseen beast. We are introduced to the characters of this world through their reactions to the mounting stress of confronting a grisly murder.

The Godfrey’s are unofficial royalty, residing in a white castle-like mansion overlooking Hemlock Grove. With the wealth from its, now closed, steel mill factory, the Godfrey’s fund a super-secretive biotech facility, The Godfrey Institute.  Effervescent and mysterious, Olivia (Famke Janssen) is a strong matriarchal character hiding many secrets. She adores her 17-year-old son, Roman (Bill Skarsgard); to the point of being smothering and controlling. Roman resents this behavior and tries desperately to rebel against it; although he is unaware, along with the audience, as to what his true nature is.

The Romancek’s are transient gypsies new to town. Peter (Landon Liboiron), also 17-years-old, is clearly a werewolf and fully aware of his supernatural nature, as well as other supernaturals in this world. One of the most amazing and talked about werewolf transformations happens in the second episode.  His mother, Lynda, is a supporting character that gently guides and encourages Peter. The relationship between this mother and son set is a stark contrast to their wealthy counterparts, the Godfrey’s.

The most intriguing storyline in Hemlock Grove is of the Godfrey Institute and the Frankenstein’s monster inspired character, Shelley Godfrey; her name being an obvious nod to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.  Shelley is abnormally large with a deformed face that glows blue when touched. And although she is the most compassionate and intelligent of all the characters, she is hindered by muteness, forcing her to watch the world unfold around her. There is also an unknown quality about her that makes her existence very important to the work being done at The Godfrey Institute.

Rounding out the cast is Dougray Scott as Roman’s Uncle Norman, Penelope Mitchell as his cousin Letha and Freya Tingley as shy wannabe novelist Christina, who seems to always get in the middle of things.

The complexity and depth to the story and its characters quickly sucks you in. And unlike many other werewolf/vampire cable programming, the dilemma of these characters is not that they are supernatural, but that they are supernatural beings reacting to life around them. 

Kate Horvat

No comments: