The first season of Hemlock Grove was a fun horror show with ‘50s B-movie vibe that Movies In Focus called ‘Twin Peaks for the Twilight generation’. It wasn’t a great show by any stretch of the imagination but it felt like a show which could develop into something interesting. The second season though just doesn’t hold up and the whole thing takes a nasty turn into soap opera territory, uprooting all the groundwork done in the first ten episodes and verging off into an uninteresting path.
The biggest failing is that Dougray Scott and Famke Janssen are sidelined this time. They were the only ones who seem to understand the tone of the material, playing it for the camp melodrama that it is. However, they’re not given enough to do and that means the focus of the series is on Bill Skarsgård and Landon Liboiron. One’s a vampire and the other’s a werewolf but their plot-threads are so anaemic that boredom soon sets in. The quirky off-beat sensibility that made season one fun is all but forgotten and that means that Hemlock Grove feels like yet another generic teen drama (albeit with supernatural elements).
Producer Eli Roth’s show isn’t as good as it was first time around and it’s no surprise that it will only return for a third and final season on Netflix. Setting a series correct isn’t easy. The first season should always be about finding the right elements and finding your footing – the second is all about honing these and making them work. This hasn’t happened with Hemlock Grove. The show has taken a different turn, twisting the narrative and becoming something which is the cardinal sin for any show – it’s downright boring.
Television is going through a rebirth at the minute, and while this Netflix show doesn’t follow the traditional broadcast stream, it is long-form storytelling. The story just isn’t there this time around and everything about this second season of Hemlock Grove feels more contractual than creative.