TV Review: “Hemlock Grove” – Like Bad Fan Fiction

Written by Jesse Gelinas April 30, 2013

Landon Liboiron and Bill Skarsgard on "Hemlock Grove"

“Whatcha doin’?” “Brooding. You?”

Welcome to Hemlock Grove

It’s very rare that a TV show can evoke such a powerful, raw emotion in me. But overnight, I found myself affected by “Hemlock Grove”. It created this deep, rumbling feeling in the deepest, darkest part of my heart, and as I watched it more and more, it only grew louder until it became an almost deafening roar. I didn’t fully understand my feelings until quite recently. I have never hated a piece of fiction so purely and utterly. It’s a perfect hate that wraps itself around your brain and turns your mind to shit. I guess, really, the show is just not very good.

Based on the novel by Brian McGreevy, “Hemlock Grove” takes place in the titular (fictional) Pennsylvania town. When a young cheerleader is found mauled to death, the town is immediately thrown into disarray as rumours fly about the killer’s identity. A handsome young gypsy boy (Peter) who lives in a trailer and is thought to be a werewolf, teams up with the rich young heir (Roman) of the family who lives in a mansion literally next door. Together they solve crime. Peter has a thing for cheap beer and tacky clothes. Roman likes kinky sex and cutting himself. Between scenes of these two bickering about their family histories, we get countless sex scenes and innumerable attempts by Famke Janssen to sound British. It’s “Twilight” meets “Fifty Shades of Grey” with a touch of horseshit thrown on top. Can you actually combine “Twilight” with bad “Twilight” fan-fiction? Is such a thing even possible? Yes it is.

Idea for a story: What about werewolves AND vampires?

The show has no qualities. That may seem a little extreme, but it’s true. The writing is awful. Not a single line of dialogue sounds natural. This is made worse by the fact that there’s not a decent performance to be found in the young cast. The two leads are wooden and emotionless and obviously only there to look pretty and almost thoughtful. Even Famke Janssen is horrible. She MIGHT have been alright and seems to be well-cast, but her completely inexplicable accent is just a displeasure to listen to. The show even looks bad. Eli Roth is not exactly an auteur, and the show has a very “made cheaply in Canada” look to it. Sadly, that’s not a compliment.

Shelley Godfrey's secret revealed on "Hemlock Grove"

There was literally one scene that made me forget my own vitriol for a moment. In the closing moments of the second episode, we’re treated to one of the more clever and gruesome werewolf transformations I’ve seen since “American Werewolf in London”. It’s the high point for a series that blows it’s wad way too early. It’s not hard to imagine for a cast of characters who are literally orgasming every six minutes. The scene loses all effect and impact though due to the other heartthrob looking on with an idiotic open-mouth look on his face, like a male Bella Swan.

“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.” – Disappointed viewers

In a word, “Hemlock Grove” is shameful. It’s a travesty. It’s a tragedy. This is what is wrong with not just television, but horror, monsters, and much of the teenage culture today. Why are people so enthralled with pussified, souless monsters with pale skin, thin frames, and beautiful cars? What happened to the time when creatures of the night were CREATURES OF THE NIGHT? Not angsty teens who’s biggest problems are love triangles and selecting an expressive wardrobe. “Hemlock Grove” is an ill-testament to our generation.

I’m extremely disappointed in Netflix. After the powerhouse that was “House of Cards”, they needed a solid show to round out their portfolio. This is not it. Take this as a lesson for the future. If a teen-aimed novel is released in March, and a TV adaptation is premiering only a year later, chances are they both suck. So I ask you, run, don’t walk, away from this abortion of bad fiction.

My Rating: 1.5/10

Netflix poster for the new series "Hemlock Grove"

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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