Making matters worse is a cast that seems to know as much about what’s going on as I do. Liboiron and Skarsgård’s chemistry feels lax, a mad doctor-turn by Johann Pryce (Joel de la Fuente) is largely unconvincing, and Janssen is still confounding. She struts around town in her couture dresses and teetering high heels, draining blood from the nether regions of poor men, dialling back slightly on her atrocious accent, and reaching a level of camp that’s just restrained enough to keep you sober in realizing one thing: she’s just not very good in the role.
And I’m not sure I blame her, it’s doubtful anyone could have had luck with Hemlock Grove‘s biggest issue: none of it makes any damn sense. The scripts are chock-full with all the requisite supernatural buzzwords that undoubtedly drew producer Eli Roth to the series, and that werewolf transformation is still gnarly (if unsurprising), but it’s just no fun to watch. The writers were obviously angling for a mysterious sensibility with the supernatural aspect of the show being talked about rather than seen (ala Game of Thrones, or The Leftovers), but delivered on the backs of a weak story and weaker characters, the supernatural expounding only adds to the sluggish pacing. The biggest thing to fear on an episode-by-episode basis isn’t werewolves, it’s adverbs.
Really, Hemlock Grove is a show juggling about a dozen different hats – it wants to be about the seedy underbelly of small towns, werewolves, vampires, bloodletting in the corporate world, a dozen other shoehorned topical issues like incest and rape – but literally none of them fit. Random scenes of violence and the occasional enjoyably awful line or two prevent it from being a complete failure, but there just aren’t nearly enough of either to warrant viewing – much less bingeing. It’s also not bad enough to be enjoyable in a campy way like the first few seasons of True Blood, which was dumb in spirit, but still knew how to function as an entertaining product.
Hemlock Grove is just dumb.
Consistently ludicrous in the worst way possible, Hemlock Grove slogs through its final hours with the same novel blend of oppressive stupidity and confounding mythology that made the first two seasons such a bore.