Hemlock Grove is a Netflix horror-thriller original television series that premiered on April 19th 2013. Eli Roth served as the executive producer for the series, with Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman serving as the lead developers. The series was based on McGreevy’s novel of the same name, and was produced by Gaumont International Television.
The first season was immediately available for online streaming of its thirteen episodes. Netflix renewed Hemlock Grove for a second, slightly shorter second season set to premiere in 2014, this time consisting of 10 episodes, as opposed to 13, as the first season. Similarly, Netflix renewed the series for a third and final season that also consisted of 10 episodes set to premiere late 2015.
Throughout the series, the strange happenings within the fictional town Hemlock Grove, Pennsylvania are investigated by Roman Godfrey and newcomer Peter Rumancek. The duo teams up to investigate the ongoing steam of brutal murders within Hemlock Grove, careful to avoid rumors while in search of the truth. They remain equally careful in avoiding revealing any of their own secrets while finding themselves wading through the secrets of the entire town.
Like other supernatural television series, Hemlock Grove makes a specific point of demonstrating that preconceptions aren’t always accurate depictions of reality. Like many, the townsfolk of Hemlock Grove are quick to jump to their own unfounded conclusions in lieu of finding any actual truth, ready to burn the newcomer for the atrocious crimes committed against their own simply because he is an outsider and not one of them. Moreover, they readily offer up their own judgments regarding his character (that he is a werewolf and therefore worthy of death if for no other reason) as evidence enough as to why he should be sentenced for his alleged crimes without bothering to verify their claims or actually search for the culprit responsible for the heinous crimes. Moreover, Hemlock Grove brings the audience into a dark world of supernatural entities and carefully guarded secrets that stand as metaphors for our own hidden natures and the inner “beasts” that we must constantly struggle with, lest we lose ourselves to our most primal instincts.
Despite its high viewership as compared to other Netflix original television series, Hemlock Grove has only received generally negative reviews from critics and audience members alike. On Metacritic, the series received a score of 46/100, while receiving a similarly midrange score on Rotten Tomatoes (a 27% approval rating for the first season and a 50% approval rating for the second). Overall, the show was generally criticized for lacking both intelligence and true mystery, with many critics commenting negatively in regards to the many plotlines that curve rather unnecessarily and confusingly that many of the plotlines curving through the story were puzzling and frustrating instead of truly thought-provoking.
On the other hand, the show was praised for its lush scenes and acting by Bill Skarsgard and Landon Liboiron (Godfrey and Rumancek respectively in the series). While the series is a horror thriller at its core, many critics commented that the environment and scenery were more reminiscent of a fantasy genre series, which may be the heart of many critics’ displeasure in the first place. Similarly, Netflix users have rated the series highly, giving the series an average rating of 4/5 on the Netflix website.
The first and second seasons of Hemlock Grove are available for streaming on Netflix.