‘Hemlock Grove’ is a subtle suspense thriller

By Katie Finlon

Was it a werewolf that killed a young girl in a sleepy Pennsylvania town? Is Olivia Godfrey (Famke Janssen) some sort of cyborg or other immortal being? After the first episode of “Hemlock Grove”, the show only keeps you guessing. I was hooked for just that reason.

“Hemlock Grove,” a Netflix original series, premiered Friday. The show, which is based on the novel “Hemlock Grove” by producer Brian McGreevy, starts with the murder of a 17-year-old girl. Around the time of the murder, Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) moves into the trailer home that used to belong to an uncle who died of an overdose.

From this point on, the pilot suggests there is something not human about this murder, and the secrets of the fictional town of Hemlock Grove, Penn., start to unveil. At the end of the pilot and at the beginning of the second episode, the male protagonists meet each other at the scene of the crime, convinced the other has committed the gruesome murder.

The murder begs an even bigger question: If it’s not gypsy boy Rumancek and if it’s not entrancing Godfrey, who killed dear Brooke?

The pilot episode shows how the Godfrey family operates and features flashbacks. You see a large, looming girl with bandaged hands and a glass eye. She turns out to be Roman’s younger sister, Shelley Godfrey. Shelley is an implied abortion gone wrong, and several girls at her high school torment and mock her in the first episode.

The show is all sorts of strange. I’m generally not into fantasy shows or movies, short of the Harry Potter series, and I only read the Twilight saga to stay informed within the pop culture realm. I’m not big on the whole werewolf or vampire thing. I am a fan of plot twists regardless of genre, and “Hemlock Grove” came fully supplied with those.

According to VentureBeat.com, Netflix announced in its quarterly earnings statement that “Hemlock Grove” was viewed by more members globally on its first weekend than its previous series “House of Cards,” and the show has been a hit with young adults in particular. It’s impressive to me how, slowly but surely, Netflix is starting to become the next HBO.

Would I consider this the best show ever produced? I would not say that. Would I say it’s worth watching if you aren’t caught up in any other show on Netflix? Definitely. This isn’t your standard horror television show so if you’re into subtle suspense, this show might be worth checking out.

The entire first season of “Hemlock Grove”—13 episodes—is now available on Netflix Instant Queue.