Starring: Famke Janssen, Landon Liboiron, Dougray Scott
Oh Netflix. You have spoiled us with so many of your Originals offerings, the magnificent remake of House of Cards, the wonderful Orange is the New Black, the promise of the upcoming Better Call Saul Breaking Bad spin-off… but then there is Hemlock Grove. Yes, I watched the whole of the first season. THE WHOLE OF THE FIRST SEASON. Then I cursed you for making me waste hours of my life watching sexy teen werewolves and vampires and Famke Janssen’s terrible acting in the hope that the resolution would make up for the dross I had sat through. No luck. It didn’t even manage to make it into the magical ‘so bad it’s good’ category. It was just bad. So why, oh why, did I find myself then watching THE WHOLE OF SEASON TWO?! I am clearly a glutton for punishment.
I had faith in you, Netflix. I thought perhaps you would have learned from the mistakes of season one, and moved away from ‘Dawson’s Creek meets Twilight’ and cottoned on to the elements that did work, namely the odder, more perverse elements. Sadly this wasn’t the case.
Don’t get me wrong. There is some good stuff in season two. The wonderfully Lynchian Dr Arnold Spivak (J C MacKenzie) adds some much needed colour to every scene he appears in*, and it was good to see Orange is the New Black alumnus Madeline Brewer in the mix too. Peter’s fiery cousin Destiny (Kaniehtiio Horn) makes a welcome move to the centre stage. Even series favourite Landon Liboiron puts in a decent performance as teen heart-throb and increasingly-less-part-time-wolf Peter. There are however some shocking performances too. Famke Janssen continues her run of being both wooden and over-the-top, Dougray Scott just looks vaguely annoyed he has to be there and Bill Skarsgard spends more time pouting than acting.
The story too is a mixed bag. Some elements are compelling, but it is too slight a story spread over too long a series, meaning an hour can go by with nothing at all happening besides some brooding and the occasional splatter of gore. During the first episode alone there are 3 scenes of people using the toilet. Yet still I kept watching.There is a story-line involving Peter’s mother which seems entirely superfluous and disappears up a pig farming cul-de-sac.
The effects are a somewhat mixed bag as well, with some of the practical make-up (Shelley’s make-up looks great) standing up very well. The CGI however leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, the finale sees some of the worst CGI I have seen in recent years, to the extent I laughed out loud. I LAUGHED.
Despite all this I still find myself pondering what will happen in season three. Damn you, Netflix.
*sadly he is at the centre of the terrible CGI