NETFLIX’s Hemlock Grove Review

Herner Klenthur

Hemlock Grove

All 13 Episodes of NETFLIX’s Hemlock Grove from director Eli Roth are now online for streaming so guess what I am doing this weekend? I am sure that many of you will be joining me in checking out the series and I encourage you to share your thoughts on the show not just with me but with the community at large here by leaving a comment.

NETFLIX has not done very well with the release of Hemlock Grove with some pretty negative reviews hitting the web before its release but this has not dissuaded me from checking it out.  I checked out Hemlock Grove on NETFLIX tonight for two reasons.

  1. I do not give a crap what critics say about horror movies or TV shows since very few understand the genre.
  2. It costs me nothing and required no effort to do so… why would I not?

Subscribers of Netflix should make the effort to check out Hemlock Grove and decide for themselves whether it is good, bad or just ok considering the entry to doing so is FREE. Even if you do not have a NETFLIX Account you can get a free 30 days trial and check out the show with ease.

Hemlock Grove is from director Eli Roth and is Netflix’s second foray into original programming and they did not skimp on the extras. Each episode of Hemlock Grove reportedly cost $4million to make [ more details here ] and to put that in perspective AMC reportedly only spends $2.75million per episode on the Walking Dead. So Netflix definitely took the project of bringing Hemlock Grove to life seriously.

Hemlock Grove stars Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgard and Penelope Mitchell and is a murder mystery that revolves around the residents of a former Pennsylvania steel town. When 17-year-old Brooke Bluebell is brutally murdered, any of Hemlock’s peculiar inhabitants – or killer creatures – could be suspects. Through the investigation the town’s seamier side is exposed, revealing nothing is what it seems. Beautiful, terrifying, and graphic, “Hemlock Grove” is unlike anything else in its genre.”

The first episode ‘Jellyfish In The Sky’ introduces us to all the key characters and also does quite a bit of time travelling to try and cover a lot of ground very quickly. From gypises, to creepy goth kids and mutants with psychic powers Hemlock Grove throws the kitchen sink at you quickly.  Honestly Hemlock Grove at times feels a bit rushed and cramped as they try to quickly introduce and explain the key characters but it also leave just enough unknown to keep us guessing for the future episodes.

Given the budget of Hemlock Grove I also kept wondering to myself did they spend that budget on the cast? The production value wasn’t horrendous but it certainly did not leave me mesmerized.


Early reviews had pointed to poor production values, bad acting and a horrible script as just a few of the problems with Hemlock Grove and at times I can not disagree. The entire opening sequence of Hemlock Grove for me fell flat. Throughout the pilot you have a mix of characters that are popping on screen fast and heavy and some like Famke Janssen and Freya Tingley deliver command performances while others turn in performances that fall very short from what I would call outstanding.

At times the dialogue is stiff and ridiculous and the production value a bit weak but at other times you can see the diamond in the rough that is trying to push its way out. I for one am going to be checking out Episode 2 of Hemlock Grove in a few minutes and see how the story of Hemlock Grove unfolds and although it has flaws overall its still better then most cable TV shows.

The first episode did the job effectively of connecting me with some of the key characters and leaving just enough cards hidden to make me want to tune in for more to see whether Hemlock Grove is just finding its groove or if its perhaps a bust and not worth watching further. I am willing to invest in at least two more episodes and hope that it finds its timing and the actors find their ‘groove’.

The Hollywood Reporter when they reviewed Hemlock Grove wrote;

Hemlock isn’t scary. It isn’t creepy. It barely makes sense, much less sense you want to decode.

They also went on to indicate that drug usage would not help your overall impression of Hemlock Grove. I can honestly say Hemlock Grove is NOT as bad as they made it out to be.  dmittedly Hemlock Grove is no Walking Dead but its also not a debacle and I think that horror fans should at least give it a try considering Episode 1 gives us such a quick glance at the world of Hemlock Grove you can honestly not pass judgement so quickly.

NETFLIX has chosen to release all the episodes at the same time so we don’t have to be lured back to a second episode so we can tune in immediately once again lowering my investment in the series and making it pretty hard to say no.

As noted I am giving Hemlock Grove at least 2 more episodes before I pass complete judgement and I think that the way that NETFLIX released the series will help with its potential success. If I had been made to wait for episode 2 I certainly would not have set aside the time but given that its just sitting there waiting for me to watch it I will.

Hemlock Grove is not perfect but its also not garbage and I for one will give it a shot for a few more episodes. What did you think of  NETFLIX’s Hemlock Grove? Sound off in the comments!

3 / 5 stars     


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      1. bob101910 April 20, 2013 at 2:29 am

        I’ve only seen the first episode and I’m not impressed yet. There was nothing big that happened to reel me in to tune in next week. Oh wait, they don’t have to because all the episodes are available now. Clever Netflix. The ending did make me want to watch another episode, but Gamefly sent out Fatal Frame 2 and I’ve been wanting to attempt to play that again for a few years now (failed first few attempts after about 10 minutes, too scary) so it’ll have to wait. Something just doesn’t look right, like the colors are too dull. I guess that has to do with production value. I was expecting more vibrant colors like those used in AHS. It doesn’t help that I’m thinking Twilight the whole time even though I’ve never seen those movies or read the books.

        • Herner Klenthur April 20, 2013 at 2:33 am

          I have made it to episode 5 now and like you identified the stink of TWILIGHT is getting worse and worse with each episode. Shocked Eli Roth would do something so ‘tween’ and really feel that horror fans are not the target audience the more I watch

      2. Jonathan (@4EverJohnnyBoy) April 20, 2013 at 7:03 am

        I just finished episode 3 and will continue tomorrow evening as I must get to sleep for I have to be up in the morning. Otherwise I would keep watching through the night. With that said, I never listen to critics reviews as more often than not they simply have no idea what they are talking about (especially in regards to the horror genre.) However, with the abundance of negativity being thrown at it I must say it is unwarranted. Sure some things need to be tweaked but in no way is this new series a lost cause. I hope the genre fans give it a shot (mainly the ones who know what the genre is all about and aren’t stuck on one note as some tend to be) and see it for what it is. You cannot judge after one or two episodes. I always give a show at least 4. Consider my interest charged!!!

        • Herner Klenthur April 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm

          Be sure to let me know how you feel once you have gotten in a few more episodes. Bill Skarsgard and Dougray Scott are definitely the low point in the show for me so far. Their timing is off on alot of the dialogue and its distracting from some of the better points in the series.

          The werewolf tarnsformation sequence was for me pretty solid other then Bill Skarsgard’s character had a stupid look on his face throughout and ended things with a badly timed verbal reaction.

          Honestly the more I watch the more I think the show suffers from bad editing more then anything. I am on Episode 5 and will give it a few more episodes and hope it finds its groove.

      3. Billum April 20, 2013 at 11:11 am

        Herner – you’re right to be suspicious of early reviews making quick judgements. But you should know that all mainstream reviewers received and watched the first three episodes before posting reviews.

        • Herner Klenthur April 20, 2013 at 1:13 pm

          Thanks for the comment Billum I did not intend to imply the critics only watched one episode. I wanted to suggest that genre fans should give it at least a couple episodes before passing judgement.

          That said I am now up to episode 5 and starting to agree with the critics on some elements

      4. Michelle April 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm

        I watched 2 episodes and I am very disappointed! I did not listen to the negative reviews because it has been said before, some critics don’t get horror. However, I have found this show to be very boring. I can’t decide if I like Famke Jensen in this, her accent is throwing me off. Bill Skarsgard is, frankly, terrible. His acting and emoting skills are so poor, you wouldn’t know he come from a family of talented actors. The special effects are decent and the cinematography is beautiful sometimes but the poor script and some mediocre acting ruins it. I will give it a couple more episodes. I had such high hopes for this show so I will stick it out.

        • Herner Klenthur April 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm

          I tend to agree so far I am not impressed. That said based off comments on site and from other communities people DO like the show, but its definitely not for everyone.

          I also agree that Bill Skarsgard is horrible. But in fairness it could be the editing and not his acting but either way its not working

          For me its a mix of True Blood and Twilight and neither one of those are my thing.

      5. DirtyGirl (@DirtyGirlReview) April 20, 2013 at 6:19 pm

        Well, I just finished watching all 13 episodes, and I want more! Yes the show is not perfect… It suffers from stiff dialogue at times but it also has some really great lines every episode! I find Famke’s accent distracting as well. However, I do know her character is supposed to be a European Upyr. So the accent is crucial to the character and we will probably get more back story on her in season 2. That is if we get a season 2…

        The story gets more involved and interesting as the season goes, so I wouldn’t judge the whole show by just two or three shows. I think the reason the show is getting poor reviews by critics is that they keep comparing it to House of Cards. Personally, I didn’t care for House of Cards that much and lost interest about half way through the season. So to each their own. And genre fans keep comparing it to True Blood or American Horror Story and it just doesn’t hold up to those shows at all. I think a better comparison is to Vampire Diaries. But to compare it to Twilight? No way. It is not even similar at all. There is a love triangle but every Vampire movie or show has a love triangle these days. Actually, Bram Stoker’s Dracula had a love triangle as well. So I guess they can all be traced back to that one in one way or another.

        My favourite character in the series is Shelley. I think the actress, Nicky Boivin, did a great job considering all she gets to do is grunt and point. In fact all the younger actors were good. Bill Skarsgard reminds me of a young James Spader at times. There is a great monologue at the end of episode 12 by the killer. Such classic horror monologuing going on there!

        My major complaint about the show is that it needed more killings and gory scenes. even when a character died they would show it off screen and then flash to the bloody aftermath. maybe this was because of budget constraints? I keep hearing how so many people love the transformation scene in episode two. it was good but not great. Seriously, those who think it was great or awesome need to watch An American Werewolf in London again! Anyway, I hope Netflix gives us a second season because I am completely hooked on this show!

        • Herner Klenthur April 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

          I think those comparing it to TWILIGHT are not doing so to compare it format wise. They are saying its GARBAGE just like Twilight.

          I am going to watch a few more episodes but my biggest issue so far is some of the horrible acting and disjointed dialogue. I also agree the FX are ok but its pretty tame.

      6. Fools2234 April 21, 2013 at 1:00 am

        Up to ep 6. The story is all over the place and I really dont like the lead characters that much, also I would like to see more of the weredog but its an ok show. Probably same rating for me 3/5

      7. bob101910 April 21, 2013 at 2:25 am

        Finished episode 4. Don’t hate the show, but don’t love it. I will finish it, but it’s starting to feel like Twilight more and more as it goes on. **SPOILER maybe (some of this is prediction of how the show feels)** I do mean the story, two handsome looking young men in a potential love triange that are different creatures that hate each other.). I think the transformation should’ve been at the end of episode one though because those effects were pretty badass.**End SPOILERS** So far the best part of the show has been the very few special effects.

        • bob101910 April 21, 2013 at 2:26 am

          Forgot to mention that I think it’s weird that **Minor SPOILER**one of the main characters is a jedi.

      8. Mike April 22, 2013 at 6:21 am


        After watching the first three episodes I was left with a dozen questions.. these questions went unanswered throughout the entire series until episode 12 when I finally learn who or what the killer is. Finale sucked too.

      9. Drew May 4, 2013 at 5:06 am


        Just finished all 13 episodes and really enjoyed it. Yes, it suffers from bad dialogue and some points of weak acting, but there’s also some really good acting and dialogue as well, and the twists at the end surprised me. At the end of episode 12 I was ready for 13 to be a suckfest b/c what more could there be? But I was wrong, we learned a lot in the last episode. I will say, though, I found myself at the very last scene of episode 13 saying out loud, “Don’t have it open it’s eyes, that’s SOOOO cliche.” SPOILER: They went for the cliche, it opened it’s eyes. But I actually still enjoyed it. It isn’t high art, it’s entertainment…consider me entertained and waiting for season 2. The critics can suck eggs.

      10. joyinthearts May 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm

        WAIT A MINUTE – In Hemlock Grove, the vargulf (Not to reveal who that is) drinks from the
        paw print at the scene of the SECOND murder, so who committed the first two? That was
        never revealed or even discussed in the end of the series.
        However, even with a few minor and this major flaw, I found this ENTIRE series delightfully enchanting, and I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT! 5 *****

        MORE Please! There is ABSOLUTE grounds for a furtherance of this, or for another such delightful series – – like “The Killing.”.

      11. T. December 31, 2013 at 10:05 pm

        I watched the entire series and I liked it enough that I will watch the second season. I agree that it struggles some with poor acting or editing or whatever the cause. Some things just don’t quite flow nicely. I also wish they would have spent more time on Shelly’s story. She was my favorite character in the series and I found myself more interested in her story and how she was created than the whole Upir/Vargulf/Werewolf thing. In fact- my entire reason behind wanting to watch the second season is the hope that they will expand on her story more. Overall- I don’t think it was as terrible as some of the reviews suggest- but it could have been better.

      12. Roy F. July 8, 2014 at 6:47 am

        I don’t know why people are so critical of this show. It’s almost like they are saying “If I made this it wouldn’t be so __________, it would have more _________,” and so on. Well, you didn’t make it. I just accepted it for what it was and loved it. The slow pace, the avoidance of ‘talking heads’ to explain everything, the barely-there score all helped to make it more like real life than a typical television show. So did the restrained performances–real people don’t spend a lot of time dramatically confronting each other or explaining their feelings, unless they’re in group therapy. Stop trying to be an amateur Roger Ebert and just worry about what the characters are doing, not the actors. I did, and I can’t wait for season 2. My only worry is that the people who created this show will cave to the critics and make a more conventional show.