Hemlock Grove: Netflix Series and Novel


photo source: imdb.com

I am a big fan of the Hemlock Grove series that was featured by Netflix from 2013-2015. After starting the first season I was instantly pulled into this strange horror/suspense series and shortly after I decided to read the novel (Hemlock Grove) that the Netflix series was based on by Brian McGreevy.

The novel possesses traits that remind me of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (format and stylistic approach). The narration jumps from character to character and includes text and email dialogue as well. I found McGreevy’s approach to trademark horror elements (monsters, murder and mystery) intriguing. It’s as if Hemlock Grove is an evolved version of a classic Victorian novel only with more gore and the inclusion of technology. Overall the novel is as good if not better than the Netflix series and left me wanting more.

What I love about the Netflix Series:

The characters are played by talented actors that give the characters amazing depth and complexity. As the series progresses these characters evolve and change (few for better, most for the worst) and this progression is wonderfully portrayed by the actors. Their ability to pull the inner struggles and desires from the core of these characters adds to the series as a whole.

Netflix’s approach to the subject matter and their knack for gory details satisfies my need for an ever evolving horror/suspense show that recognizes the chuckle that comes with vampires and werewolves but also adds more and makes it unique to its predecessors. These vampires (Umpirs) and Werewolves are different from the mainstream ones that have been over glorified and given too many (almost unbelievable) moralistic traits but they also contain key elements that horror fans recognize. For example the stereotype of gypsy werewolves and aristocratic origins of old vampires is paired with a werewolf gone ‘berserk’ (lol) a.k.a. Vargulf and an Umpir who uses money and science to better understand her species.

Throughout the series there is no restraints on the use of blood and bodies. The show is rated MA for Mature for a reason. I personally love the over the top use of blood and dead bodies. At certain times in the series (season one) the blood is used precisely to instill fear of the mysterious monster that is terrorizing Hemlock Grove. In season two blood is used in exaggeration (I think to reflect the gravity of the events taking place, as well as Roman’s ever increasing blood lust). The best example of the over to top use of blood is in this scene from season two episode five,

(source: youtube.com  user: Nippy93)

Roman’s need for blood is seen in this ‘daydream’ of his as he fantasizes about drinking Miranda’s blood. The music and slow motion reflect his lust filled desire to indulge in his Umpir appetite.¬†

Alongside the use of blood and classic monsters, the story also includes unknown creatures that I have never read about (I also study folklore and mythology). This inclusion of other strange creatures is intriguing and demonstrates the stories ability to evolve and adapt to a modern audience.

The soundtrack is varied and includes many different songs spanning across multiple genres. I am curious to know if the soundtrack was chosen in collaboration with others in the production of the series or if the music is just a particular taste of one individual. I find the soundtrack refreshing and remarkably reflective of the show as a whole.

(Here is a spotify playlist that includes the songs used in the Hemlock Grove series)



With every show and story there comes a fandom. I usually indulge in looking up behind the scene photos or extra information on the actors and actresses of a series that I love but with Hemlock Grove I find myself admiring the characters from a safe distance. I’m not concerned about the questionable relationship between the two main characters, Roman and Peter, but love to dissect their attributes and actions while I read/watch Hemlock Grove.

Many lovers of Hemlock Grove gravitate to Roman Godfrey (played by Bill Skarsgard) because of his looks and of course his role as an Umpir. From what I’ve found there is little obsession over Peter (played by Landon Liboiron) which I think is a shame (or I just haven’t looked hard enough). Personally I’ve always gravitated to werewolves in horror novels and films versus vampires because of the honesty in which the werewolf operates. A werewolf cannot hide in a crowd when transformed, it is a brutal creature that kills versus a vampire that looks like anyone else when it is killing, save it’s fangs and distorted face. But really it all comes down to preference.

Overall, I would recommend Hemlock Grove to anyone that is open minded and loves Horror/Suspense shows. I can see Hemlock Grove as an acquired taste for some people and probably ridiculous to others. I personally love the Netflix Series (even with season three’s conclusion) and the novel by Brian McGreevy. I plan on re-reading the novel this summer and watching the series over again (I can’t count how many times I’ve seen the whole series, over and over again).

Please feel free to leave any responses in a comment below! I’d love to converse with any other fans of the series or expand on this small reflection in the future, given a specific topic.



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