Posted by: pop-break | April 22, 2013

TV Recap: Hemlock Grove

justin matchick is bloody disgusted …

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This past February, when Netflix premiered House of Cards, many television critics began to wonder if this was the future of the way we watched television shows. No longer shackled by the airtimes the networks chose, viewers would be free to watch a series at whichever pace they chose. This supposed revolution in television viewing was aided by the fact that House of Cards had a quality to it that rivaled and often surpassed the most acclaimed network dramas of today. Now Netflix has just recently released their newest original show, horror series Hemlock Grove. I’m sure nobody ever expected the Eli Roth produced series to reach the heights House of Cards did, but not only does it fail to meet the standards set by House of Cards, it fails to meet the standards of almost any show … anywhere … ever.

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Before I delve into the multitude of issues with Hemlock Grove, let’s start with its premise. After a teenage girl is found brutally murdered, her small town is irrevocably shaken and it seems almost anybody, or anything, could be responsible. Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) and Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgard), two local high schoolers who are also likely suspects in the girl’s killing, decide to take the investigation into their own hands and find who killed her. Peter is a newcomer to the area and a Roman is a loner who a few people around town suspect could be a werewolf. Roman is a member of the incredibly wealthy family that runs the Godfrey Institute, which seems to have a controlling stake in many of the higher-ups around the town.

Skarsgard and Liboiron seem lost in their roles; decent actors that are given script after script of plot devices and lines of dialogue that make zero sense. Skarsgard at times winds up sounding like The Room’s Tommy Wiseau, and all you can do is laugh. Things get even worse whenever we focus on Roman’s mother Olivia (Famke Janssen). Armed with the worst “upper class” accent I’ve ever heard, Janssen turns what should be a sinister performance as the domineering matriarch of the most powerful family in town into something so over-the-top it loses all traction from the very second she appears on screen. Any time the show shifts focus away from the murder investigation, which winds up happening almost all the time, the interest in what’s happening on screen drops to absolute zero. For a show that purports to have so many mysteries and twists to keep the viewer interested, they invest so little in giving any background or context to the characters it becomes impossible to show even the smallest bit of interest in what happens to these people.

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The writing, editing, and pacing are all so woeful it almost makes the show delve into “so bad, it’s good” territory, but I would never willfully suggest anyone watch this dreck. Whoever wrote this show must have a very loose grasp of human interaction. People here talk to each other in metaphors that don’t make sense, literally requiring the viewer to pause at points and wonder just what they even mean. The pacing is so off-base it becomes laughable at times, such as a scene where a father finds out his daughter is pregnant. There is zero dramatic buildup, no palpable emotion when he finds out; his wife and daughter just enter the room and announce it. You can find a better use of tension in a low-rent soap opera.

Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks before should find the basic premise familiar. Whereas Twin Peaks reveled in the weird and spooky nature of the town and its populace, Hemlock Grove supplants all that with gore and gruesome scenes meant to shock, but come off as listless, boring, and overly “edgy” instead. Eli Roth doesn’t have a millionth of the talent and directorial finesse David Lynch has, and it shows time and time again here. Scenes of horror and tension fall flat thanks to the fact that half the time you can’t even tell what is happening or who these people are or why you should even care. Mostly you’re just left wondering what the hell you’re looking at instead of actually being terrified. This isn’t Twin Peaks for the millennial crowd; this is Twin Peaks for people without fully functioning brains.

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Responses

  1. The Tommy Wiseau comparison is dead on.


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