Hemlock Grove (2014)
Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Demore Barnes, Dougray Scott, Famke Janssen, Joel de la Fuente, Kaniehtiio Horn, Landon Liboiron, Lili Taylor, Luke Camilleri, Madeleine Martin, Madeline Brewer, Shauna Macdonald
Hemlock Grove: Season 2 Review
A Netflix Original Series
Season Two of Hemlock Grove follows on from where the last season left off, albeit a few months down the line. For those who haven’t seen the first season, you may be wondering what to expect. The programme centres around a place called Hemlock Grove where almost everyone in the town are a bit… how shall I put it… not quite right, with its residents each harbouring secrets and those secrets are not always of this world.
Two of the main characters are young men Peter Rumancek and Roman Godfrey. Peter Rumancek is a likable rogue, a Romani gypsy who has a big heart and a passion to do what’s right. Roman Godfrey is the heir to the Godfrey dynasty who own a lot of property in the town including the huge Biotech firm in the centre of the town, known as the White Tower. It is here where Dr Johann Pryce researches and creates new technology for the company but whilst he’s keen to work for his Godfrey employer, he seems to have an agenda of his own. Roman’s mother Olivia is quite a scheming, heartless woman who’s only care is about herself and her bloodline though after events of Season One, she seems to soften a bit, getting in touch with human emotion. With the climatic ending of Season One, Roman’s sister Shelley has not returned to Hemlock Grove and is feared dead but her Uncle Norman holds out hope that she’s still out there, somewhere. With all the quiet subtle drama, tinged with eeriness, going on in Hemlock Grove, you can see why not many people would want to visit.
After leaving Hemlock Grove after the death of his love Letha, Peter is forced to return when his mother is arrested with an ever-increasing list of charges against her name. Whilst staying with his cousin Destiny, he attempts to reconnect with Roman but bad blood is left between the two friends as Roman feels as though Peter deserted him at a time when he needed him most. When they both begin to share the same dreams again, surreal glimpses of masked men and children, they fear that a new evil has plagued their town and they must work together if they are to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, Roman struggles to come to terms with his upirism, his mother Olivia slowly recuperates after her incident with Roman, and a new girl in town, Miranda, gets her feet firmly under the table at Roman’s home, though her presence is greatly required by one of the home’s residents.
The second season of Hemlock Grove is pretty slow-moving, though the bulk of the action and interesting plot threads lie with the younger cast with the older cast given scraps to work with. The overiding plot thread focuses on a series of murders carried out by a masked cult, which both Peter and Roman have visions of. The rest of the screen-time is set closer to home with squabbles and drama between characters and their families, particularly with the Godfrey family, and their dependency on Dr Pryce’s work at the White Tower.
Compared to Season One, Season Two of Hemlock Grove is lacking somewhat. The first season felt much tighter and impressive, with the vargulf storyline operating a much tighter web. In Season Two, whilst the murders are prevalent, there doesn’t seem as much focus on them when there should be. The tense build up promises something big, but when the payoff comes it’s not as thrilling as I’d have hoped. Season One suffered from this issue too and you can’t help but be left wanting more. Granted, Season Two has a lot of ideas going on but that seems to have diluted the content somewhat and some of the plot threads seem quite throwaway, just inserted to set up a scene later on. As a whole, Season Two feels as though it’s setting up for something bigger in Season Three, which has been confirmed will be the final season. I’m hoping they’ll go out with a bang and really pack a punch with the conclusion as the likable characters deserve that much.
Horror wise, there’s a handful of kills here and there with plenty of blood on show, particularly in the latter end of the season. The first episode contains an impressive partial werewolf transformation scene that simply has to be seen and is worth watching just for that, whilst the CGI full transformation is left for later episodes.
Landon Liboiron (Peter) and Bill Skarsgård (Roman) are the standout of the cast, with much of the script centred around these two characters, though Roman’s cousin Destiny (Kaniehtiio Horn) tends to steal every scene she’s in as the fantastic psychic of the family. The scenes between Famke Janssen (Olivia), Dougray Scott (Norman) and Joel de la Fuente (Dr. Pryce) seem forced and dull in comparison to the younger stars and aren’t left with much to do during the season except plot against one another.
Hemlock Grove Season 2 is quite a slowburn and unfortunately doesn’t conclude in the way you’d like it to. Though weaker than its first season, the characters and their relationships within Hemlock Grove will keep you watching but for Season Three, they really need to take it up a notch and knock it out of the ballpark if they want to wow their audience.