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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

DVD Dish: Welcome to Hemlock Grove

If you miss HBO's True Blood - or you can't wait until 2016 for more Twin Peaks - then might I suggest a visit to Hemlock Grove, the Netflix horror series whose first season is being released today on DVD and Blu-ray by Shout! Factory. Based on Brian McGreevy's 2012 novel, this show is one weird and wild ride into a small Pennsylvania town populated by werewolves, vampires and other monsters. And although I was a bit confused at times about what was going on - and there is a helluva lot going on - I enjoyed spending time with the fascinatingly freaky denizens of Hemlock Grove.

The story begins with 17-year-old Peter Rumancek and his mother Lynda moving to Hemlock Grove, where he soon becomes friends with his classmate Roman Godfrey, heir to the town's wealthiest family. Roman's widowed mother Olivia has been having an affair for many years with her married brother-in-law Norman, whose virginal teenage daughter Letha announces that she is pregnant - by an angel! Then when two young girls are believed to have been brutally killed by an animal, a girl named Christina points the finger at Peter, whom she correctly thinks is a werewolf. He and Roman then set out to prove his innocence and - well, I could continue on and on with this synopsis, but I think that is enough twisted drama to pique one's interest for this series. However, I must mention one other character - my personal favorite - Roman's sweet sister Shelley, who was brought back from the dead by a mad scientist as a deformed Frankenstein-inspired monster. Watching her roam the hallways of her high school is a sight to behold.

Now all of these strange goings-on are brought to vivid life by Hemlock Grove's exceptional cast, which includes Landon Liboiron as Peter, Bill Skarsgård as Roman, Penelope Mitchell as Letha, Freya Tingley as Christina, Nicole Boivin as Shelley, Dougray Scott as Norman, and the always wonderful Lili Taylor as Lynda. But it's the lovely Famke Janssen (from the X-Men films) who nearly steals the show as the mysterious Olivia. The talented actress has played a manipulative mother before on TV's Nip/Tuck, but this time she gets to strut around town in white go-go boots.

So if you're in the mood for a monster soap opera, I recommend that you check out the gothic - and often gruesome - Hemlock Grove, which was recently renewed for a third and final season in 2015. I can't wait to find out what's going to happen next.

The DVD and Blu-ray both include six "Making Hemlock Grove" featurettes and an audio commentary on Episode 1 with director and executive producer Eli Roth and actress Lorenza Izzo (whose character's murder opens the series). You can purchase Hemlock Grove: The Complete First Season on Amazon or at


Anonymous said...

I've watched every episode of series 1 and 2. The show is interesting, even if the plot twists do take some serious suspension of disbelief. Sadly, the main thing wrong with this series are the leads. Bill Skarsgård was hired because of his resemblance to his brother, another non-actor. Famke Jannsen couldn't act her way out of a wet paper bag.

Marc Harshbarger said...

Thanks for your comment, Anonymous, but I must disagree with you about Ms. Janssen, whom I've always liked as an actress. As for the Skarsgård brothers, I think they're both fine as actors. And I doubt that I would enjoy watching Hemlock Grove if I didn't like the leads.