I didn’t get into Picket Fences and I haven’t watched American Gothic, but when I saw the tweet the other day for Hemlock Grove I thought I’d give it a shot. This horror, thriller, drama is in some ways exceptional and in some ways not so much. Some of the good? It reminded me strongly of AMC’s “The Killing” which I loved. They both share an air of hopelessness, of secrets and lies, of hidden danger that I really enjoy. (That sentence sounds extra creepy when I read it back. Yikes.)
The casting and acting are great. Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgård are top billed and do a wonderful job but there are so many others that really knock it out of the park. Dougray Scott and Lili Taylor turn in memorable performances as the “responsible” adults. It was great to see Aaron Douglas (Battlestar Galactica) in a recurring role as the town sheriff and his fellow alum Kandyse McCure is phenomenal as a tough but conflicted ****** ****** (spoilers sweeties). The rest of the supporting cast is wonderful as well. Not that they didn’t have excellent writing to work with. Hemlock takes a page from Lost in that after you’ve seen an episode or two you realize that every interaction, every character we meet could be very important at some point. That kind of depth makes really interesting television, though I’d hate to try to run the Wikipedia page.
The story takes place in Hemlock Grove Pennsylvania, a company town that looks more like New England than Pennsylvania. After meeting a few of the locals we see the brutal murder of a high-school girl. It’s obviously an animal attack but what kind? Director Ethan Roth does a thing at the end of the attack that really creeped me out (in a good way) when you watch the scene I think you’ll get it.
Don’t expect a resolution quickly, again like AMC’s “The Killing” the season revolves around the plot introduced in the first episode. Luckily the writers know how to keep us interested. Subplots abound and the secrets of almost every character are revealed by the end of the season.
The series is rated TV-MA and they’re not kidding sex, blood, and violence are everywhere in this series. It was captivating.
The cast of characters are varied but slightly stereotypical. A lot of my first guesses were proven correct, but luckily not in the first episode. My only real complaint? So much of the effects budget is spent on the transformations (you’ll understand) that every driving sequence takes on a Saturday Night Live skit quality. But the transformations? Oh. My. Lord. Totally worth watching a few episodes for that alone.
Give Hemlock Grove a shot. If the second season is half as engaging Netflix may have a successful series on their hands. Guess we’ll have to stay tuned to find out.