Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Top 10 Reasons Why I HATED Hemlock Grove

First, let me start by mentioning I am a HUGE fan of horror.  I have always loved horror films, haunted houses, Halloween, creepy ghost stories, horror comics, horror movie trading cards…just practically anything associated with the horror genre.  Some of my favorites involve movie monsters, with my absolute favorite movie monster of all time being the werewolf.  Recently both a friend and a blog I regularly read recommended watching a new Netflix "original" series titled, Hemlock Grove.  The recommendation basically being that it is a show about werewolves that finally gets werewolves "right," whatever that means.  Also, I was told it was campy and terrible, but incredibly enjoyable to watch.  Camp is already king in my book so if you tell me werewolves are also involved, I'M SOLD.  I then did a minimal amount of research and found that the show centers around a mystery involving a series of brutal murders in a small town where the wealthy well-known, but weirdo Godfrey family and the new mysterious "gypsy" mother and son who roll in unwelcome, quickly all become suspects.  Um, vampires vs. werewolves, anyone???  So, the other night I turned on the Netflix was was prepared to be entertained.  Let me go ahead and skip ahead now...the OPPOSITE happened.  I hated this series.  I hated it so much I didn't think I could hate a show as much as I hated this show.  Before you say, "Did you watch the whole season?" the answer is yes, yes, I did AND I FUCKING HATED IT. 
Let me point out that I do not have high standards whatsoever when it comes to T.V. or film.  I like terrible, terrible things.  I'm up for terrible acting mixed with bad special effects mixed with gratuitous sex scenes as much as the next B-movie lover, but Hemlock Grove is the worst kind of terrible.  It manages to have a ridiculous over the top plot while still containing incredibly long stretches of boring that all lead up to massive amounts of disappointment.  To break it down much more quickly and concisely than the show's script writers attempted to, here are my Top Ten Reasons I HATED Hemlock Grove.  I should warn you now, if you haven't seen this show and intend to, don't bother, also spoilers ahead.    

10.  Dear This Guy, You're Not Your Brother
I know there are a lot of weirdos out there that watch True Blood (aka adult Twilight) and this series is blatantly trying to cater to those people's creepy, secondary needs.  Even though I'm not a True Blood fan (because, you know, FAIRY PROSTITUTES), I am still painfully aware that Bill Skarsgard as spoiled, time capsuled James Deanesque butthole teenage vampire, Roman Godfrey (who at some point is snorting coke AND smoking pot while taking a bath because, duh, his self indulgence KNOWS NO BOUNDS) is in fact, NOT even close to touching the sexually attractive level his brother, Alexander has reached as the most vampiric viking of Louisiana.  Also, please stop with the duck face.  You're embarrassing everybody.    
"Hey, what's up?  Oh, nothing, just being this guy.  Oh, my brother?  Yeah, I know, stupid."
P.S. Dear people that are aroused by vampires because they are controlling and abusive to women - please seek therapy.

9.  Tons Of Sex...You Never See
This show has a lot of sex scenes.  Most are totally unnecessary, kind of like sex in general, but lots of sex scenes are unnecessary in film and television.  Either way, it is a horror series mixed with a murder mystery thriller dealing with bestial monster crap and there are a decent amount of sexy people on screen, so of course there should be a bunch of sex scenes.  Hemlock Grove manages to fit them in of course, in fact, one of the first scenes of the pilot involves car sex, but from there on, the scenes keep happening, but we never really see them again.  Most of what we get are slow shots, creeping up on a car or a door or a wall with the loud sounds of sex screams behind it, but by the time we reach the characters, the deed is done.  What is the point of a bunch of gratuitous sex if we can't see the actual sex???  BORING.
8.  World's Worst Fake British Accent
If you are a non-British person, do you know that accent you did as a kid when you were playing Jeeves the Butler, making fun of those period dramas your mom watched or re-enacting that Grey Poupon commercial?  Well, even if you don't remember, it's still better than Famke Janssen's as Godfrey matriarch, Olivia.  Seriously, do one aloud right now.  I can't even hear you and I guarantee it's better.  If you don't believe me, click here ya ol' tossah!   

7.  The Complete Waste Of Lili Taylor
Poor Lili Taylor.  She is such a great actress with a potentially cool character here and is blatantly misused.  Sure she's just the mother of a werewolf, but she could also be one herself and that would be an awesome story arc.  Come on, even if they're were, wolves always travel in packs, right?  At least Lili as Lynda Rumancek, Peter (THE WOLF'S) mother is the only seemingly sane and normal person on the show.  Also, the only woman who is remains unmurdered and unmaimed.  So I guess there's that?  

6.  Some Of The Least Endearing Terrible WTF Dialogue Ever Written On Paper
You remember how Dawson's Creek tried to re-write teenage dialogue to make it their own and when you watched it you were like, this is not how people talk, but found it charming anyway?  Yeah, me either.  In Hemlock Grove, instead of making the teens sound like socially awkward, bookish theater nerds, they want you to know they're really small town and stupid.  Also, they like word cunt.  A lot.  

Here are some general gems:

Peter: "...This is a strange town, you can feel it in your balls." 

Roman [when he is sad]: "...Make your heart steel...make your heart steel."  

Olivia [to Roman on gypsies]: "...They will steal the rings from your fingers and the love from your heart."

Peter: "...Werewolf is pretty racist.  I prefer sexy man-beast."

I think they thought if the dialogue was trashy and or douchey, it would be some sort of 80's slasher movie throwback.  At least, I think they thought that.  The problem is, the setting isn't a cabin in the woods or a locked up shopping mall with a bunch of drunk popular teens, but a bad Twin Peaks murder mystery rip off with a cast of older loner "teenagers" and a bunch of parents so...maybe just stick with the regular bad dialogue?  It's already bad enough. 
5.  So, What Is This Here For? 
The Godfrey Institute is a giant building that is owned by the Godfrey's and carries out genetic experiments, I guess.  No time is really spent on this to any level of an interesting degree.  Also, murders happen here sometimes.   
Roman's sister/Olivia's youngest daughter is a franken-teen, presumably.  Her name is Shelley (GET IT).  She slobbers, walks weird, has a cyclops eyeball and one of her arms is always bandaged.  I guess this is a Mummy shout out.  Her big scene is trying to order a salad in a restaurant when her mom wants her to eat a steak.  Also, she buys earrings later.  

4.  Stretching It Out...And Out...And Out
Wait, so who is this?  What's happening?  Why is everyone just fucking standing around?  Can that guy just turn into a fucking vampire already???  According to Hemlock Grove, silence is golden, so is creating giant gaps between were-transformations, vampirism and anything that resembles a plot.
3.  Angel Incest Rape As A Plot Device
Roman has a blonde/virginal cousin named Letha.  They are creepily and uncomfortably close for cousins.  Initially I wrote this off as the fact they were obviously weirdo vampires so I guess that's just what they do, except Letha's purpose in the plot isn't to be blood brothers with her cousin, it's so she can have a dream where she's raped by an angel, only to find out that the angel was actually her cousin Roman, who raped her under his mother's vampire mind control.  For some reason this was necessary to the plot, mostly to see Letha in a white nightie, prove that Olivia is jealous and conniving and to have a reason to kill another female character later on.  Roman, of course, is seen to be without blame even though HE RAPED HIS COUSIN.  What, it's not like he meant to, you guys!  

2. Seriously Sickening Amounts Of Slut Shaming
For a series chalk full of female characters, Hemlock Grove really hates women.  No, REALLY hates women.  The major plot point of the series is solving the brutal murders of several young girls by a rampaging wolf.  Not coincidentally, these victims also happen to be the only women who express any sense of healthy sexuality or engage in average teenage sexual promiscuity.  Sure, most horror movies have this underlying misogynistic tone of slut shaming or punishing "sinful" teens, but in Hemlock Grove, Roman is seen gallivanting around town boning ladies in his Jaguar all willy nill, of which he of course walks away undead (pun), sexed and satisfied, while the women end up gutted and torn apart for their part in the bone parade.  In fact, the first woman murdered is not only the first girl shown having sex with Roman, but is later killed when trying to meet up with her teacher with whom she is allegedly having a, SHOCK, "lesbian affair."  In fact, she is not the only lesbian gay-shamed in the series.  Another female character who is an investigator/supernatural beast slayer is "revealed" to be a lesbian in her opening scene and is later filleted alive by, yep, another lady, this time Olivia.  This series not only likes to slut shame and hammer home that women are manipulative and irresponsible both with their emotions and their bodies, but also the idea that all women hate other women.
Once the killer is revealed, it turns out to be prudish/bookish Christina who admits she made a point of tearing apart the women "snatch first" (a phrase that is fucking used in the show) as a punishment for their "disgusting, whorish behavior."   Don't worry though, Christina is killed too (by another woman) a short time after she mentions that turning into a wolf "...must be what it feels like to cum."  Yeah.  Olivia is the only character seen sexing often without instant fatal consequences, of course, instead of having sex for normal, healthy reasons, as the girls that were killed did, she uses sex as a manipulative tool, which I guess is okay in the script writer's eyes, you know, cause that's what women do.  
Of the main female characters, Letha and Christina last the longest, presumably due to their virtuous un-sexed states of being, but once Christina reveals she likes orgasms and Letha births her product of incest rape, those characters are dispatched as well, Christina by a neck-breaking Shelley and Letha possibly by her unborn child which is hinted at being a girl.  Once it all wraps up (sort of), practically all of the female characters of the series are murdered, even including manipulative matriarch, Olivia, who is killed at the hands of her son after they make out.  A scene in which he tears out her tongue with newly acquire vampire teeth and his parting words to her as she lay dying are, "...you talk too much."  Ugh, women!  In the end, the only main female character left standing is poor, awkward Franken-Shelley who luckily can't speak, attract men or fornicate, therefore being incapable of manipulation or witchery according to the minds of the male script writers.  She is shot twice in the back though before the credits roll...so technically she could be dead too.      
1.  Werewolves That Turn Into Wolves
The most of what critics, bloggers and bad friends are cooing about when it comes to this series are the awesome werewolf transformations.  I won't completely disagree, the transformations are kind of cool.  What these people fail to mention, is following a brutal and pretty cool transformation scene is not a human ripped apart and turned into a bad ass werewolf, but a human ripped apart and turned into a regular, run of the mill, steak and potatoes wolf.  Like, just a wolf that looks like a wolf in the woods.  WTF????  
This is one of the biggest lead ups to one of the most disappointing werewolf transformations EVER.  So their eyeballs pop out, their skin rips apart, their back appears to be breaking, Wolverine-like claws protrude from their knuckles and they scream in pure agony...only to have them turn into a timber wolf/Alaskan Malamute that adorably licks pieces of their fake former skin prosthetic on the ground???  Fuck you, Hemlock Grove.  I sat through two fucking terrible episodes of duck face and British accent all for THIS???  Even in Twilight, where the werewolves were just wolves, they were at least really large wolves.  You can check out Peter's transformation clip below:  

By the way, does wolf face coming out of man face only to turn into a generic wolf sound familiar to any other werewolf lovers??  Yep, it was one of the biggest disappointments in 1984 British B-movie, The Company of Wolves.  Remember the cover of that movie?  It promised to be one of the coolest werewolf transformations ever seen!  Until you rented it, sat through a bunch of British drama and ended up with an awesome transformation...into a Husky.  So, not only is Hemlock Grove terrible, terrible werewolf story writing, but it's literally been done terribly already over almost 30 YEARS AGO.
Ultimately, Hemlock Grove taught me a lot of things; massive misogyny is not only still mainstream and blatant, but extremely unapologetic, I have terrible friends and Netflix should stick to airing shows and movies they don't make.  Also, the Skarsgards.  What's their deal?