So, Netflix. Who hasn’t heard of it? About a month ago, it finally came to the Netherlands, and being the movie and TV show lover that I am, I fetched me a free month and started browsing the collection. I decided to start with a Netflix original show, and I was about to dive into the popular Orange Is The New Black. However, before I could start that show featuring Donna and her nude chest, I stumbled across another Netflix production. One based on a book. One that had a badass show poster: Hemlock Grove.
Knowing nothing about both the show and the book it is based on, I finished the first episode being baffled by the cool atmosphere of the show. I wasn’t sure where it was going, and that’s a good sign for a show: if I can predict every character’s actions and motives from the get-go, I’m not gonna have a good time. Thus, I decided to go further into the show, and before I knew it, all thirteen episodes had been devoured by me, like the murder victims in the show (no spoiler, trust me).
Now, before I go any further, let me say that I did enjoy Hemlock Grove. I liked the actors, the scenery and the plot. Everything about the show was proof to Eli Roth’s skill as a producer. If I hadn’t liked the series, I would have never finished it. Trust me, I’m really critical when it comes to shows and first impressions: I have never continued watching Supernatural because the first episode didn’t rub me the right way. I believe in love at first sight, especially when it comes to moving pictures, but I don’t believe in second chances.
However, after I had finished the last episode of Hemlock Grove and started to prepare myself for bed, my reflection in the mirror started doubting the quality of the show while I was busy brushing my teeth: was the acting any good? Did the story just assume too many things? Were the relationships between the main characters not somewhat…forced? I had to agree with my reflection (which I rarely do, ’cause he’s one narrow-minded douche), and found myself pondering my feelings towards Hemlock Grove while trying to fall asleep.
As I rose the next day, I still felt confused: I did like the show enough to watch it from start to end, but at the same time, I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends. Why? Well, while the atmosphere invoked by the locations and the themes of the story was great, the acting of all lead characters was sometimes weird and off-setting. Also, the middle episodes are doing too much build-up work for the final ones, while offering not enough excitement to make them worth watching. Sure, you get rewarded for pushing through those episodes once you get to episode twelve and thirteen, but it takes patience and tolerance to hammy writing and some cliché characters. With such cool actors and scenery, I feel like so much more could have been done with the show.
All in all, Hemlock Grove is a good show when you like stories about werewolves, gypsies and power-hungry pharmaceutical corporations. However, it will leave you with that unsatisfied feeling that the show could have given you so much more, but decided to go for a safe, but mediocre approach.
As said, I wouldn’t recommend this show to my friensd, but I would watch it myself. That doesn’t make me any less of confused…