Hemlock Grove (2013)Monday, May 27, 2013
The third installment of a "Netflix Original Series" as it comes into play with the supernatural-horror-thriller-romance genre. What could make for some campy and fun storytelling instead comes off as dull and pretentious teen soap-opera.
It's an interesting premise but it is just lacking so much. From the placid acting to the stunted character development to the uninteresting thrills and twists. The build up that seems to be taking place across the span of 13 episodes is such that when we (finally) reach the end you just don't care anymore. It's dragged out for so long and the continuity is shifted so much that it's hard to root or feel compassion for anyone by then.
The Acting. It's a weird combination of people phoning it in and overacting. I am not sure what Famke Janssen was thinking but her attempt at an English accent was atrocious. I'm not the best judge in these sort of things but dear lord please give this woman Rossetta Stone! Everyone else is reading the cue cards and just going through the motions. It never feels like there is a genuine conversation among any of them, they're all kind of just acting next to each other, no chemistry and no real involvement.
The Story. Details and explanations are lacking, words are thrown around and names or events are mentioned but everything is vague. I know it's meant to keep with the whole mystery of it all but when a revelation is finally made it's like it doesn't even matter. The pace, momentum and attitudes taken are "oh, ok ... anyway" - let's not even try and explain "why". Seriously, wtf? I don't know if the book is any better but I am not going to attemp to find out.
Overall. I was hoping something exciting could save it but it just never happened. I was more confused by the end than I was at the beginning. Had to dig around for explanations. Skip it and get the most important highlights instead. Below are the major plot points in case you care to read them.
Peter Rumancek - gypsy and werewolf. Transformation is shown but background is not explained. He is best friends with Roman and dates Letha. He is on the hunt for a Vargulf. After Letha's death and the un-covering of the real killer he leaves town.
Roman Godfrey - he is an upir though not officially revealed until the last episode. He is helping Peter find the true killer. His real father is Norman Godfrey. He was the one responsible for getting Letha pregnant. He is controlled by his mother, Olivia, and does not remember some of his actions. After he learns the truth he slits his wrists, bleeds to death and comes back as an upir. He tears Olivia's tongue and kills her.
Shelley Godfrey - frankenstein-like girl, she died and was resurrected but it did not go well. She was born with a caul (in order to become an upir) but Olivia ate it incorrectly, she had it sauteed with mushrooms or something. She is blamed for the death of Christina Wendall and she is about the only like-able character in the entire series and does not have a speaking part.
Letha Godfrey - Roman's cousin/half sister. Daughter of Norman Godfrey. She is raped by Roman but doesn't remember, she thinks an angel impregnated her. She has the baby but she doesn't make it.
Olivia Godfrey - Roman's mother and also and upir. She hates gypsies. Flashbacks reveal she was in love with a gypsy boy at the age of 13. She ran away with him but he stole her jewelry and money and abandoned her. She was distraught, cut off her tail (yes, she had a tail), bled to death and came back as an upir. She (most likely) was responsible for her husband's suicide, she sleeps with Norman, mind controls Roman, kills Chausser and has Letha (most likely) killed.
Dr. Clementine Chausser - the Van Helsing equivalent on the hunt for werewolves, what is called the order of the dragon, and is after Peter. Some snippets of her past are shown but it doesn't add anything to her character and she is killed anyway.
Christina Wendall - Peter and Roman's classmate and aspiring writer. Goes through a mental breakdown after discovering a dead girl's body in the woods. Turns out she's the Vargulf (psycho werewolf) killing the girls in Hemlock Grove. She thinks they're sluts and is punishing them by death (seriously). She becomes a Vargulf by drinking water from Peter's werewolf paw print. After she is revealed to be the killer she and Peter fight it out as wolves. Shelley comes to the rescue and snaps the Vargulf's neck killing Christina.
How does it end: The Ouro Boros project is not explained, though it looks like it's some sort of human cloning experiment. Peter leaves town, Roman is officially a vampire and Letha is dead but the baby is alive. Olivia is dead (presumably), Shelly is on the run and Dr. Chausser's brother has been called into Hemlock Grove to continue the pursuit. Christina is buried but her grave is seen and screams can be heard - after all, a werewolf can only be killed by decapitation. The End.