Hemlock Grove TV Poster Image

Hemlock Grove

(i)

 

High school-set horror series is gory, sexy, and strange.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There's some suggestion of humanity in Hemlock Grove, but the overall tone is dark, dangerous, and foreboding. Duplicity and duality are common themes, exploring rich vs. poor, good vs. evil, and truth vs. lies.

Positive role models

The two main characters are working together to find a killer in spite of their differences. That said, neither is a role model you'd want your teen to fully emulate. There are some meaty (and equally sketchy) roles for women, too, but young girls also make up 100 percent of the murder victims.

Violence

Violence isn't constant but when it happens, it's gratuitous and gross -- with eyeballs, teeth, and entrails popping out; skin ripping; blood pooling, etc. Teen girls are savagely murdered, although their deaths aren't shown fully onscreen.

Sex

Simulated sex acts with visible breasts/nipples/buttocks. One character combines his hunger for sex with a thirst for blood, including a disturbing scene involving oral sex with a high school girl who has her period. A teen girl becomes pregnant (but claims the baby's father is an angel), and one scene alludes to a same-sex affair between a teacher and a student.

Language

Unbleeped language includes "f--k" and "s--t," along with terms like "balls" and "retard."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teen characters drink alcohol regularly with no apparent consequences (a wealthy teen has a bar in his bedroom, etc.). Others use pot and cocaine, and some characters smoke cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the residents of Hemlock Grove are a strange crew of misfits and monsters (both literally and figuratively) who are grappling with an unsolved series of murders. Teens might be interested because the setting is high school and many of the characters are teens, but the violent content is gratuitous and gross, and you'll see simulated (and sometimes bloody) sex acts with partial nudity, including breasts, nipples, and buttocks, making the series appropriate for adults only. You'll also hear unbleeped language that includes the F-bomb and everything in between. Teen characters smoke and drink alcohol, too, and use illegal drugs (including pot and cocaine) with no real consequences.

What's the story?

Soon after newcomer Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) and his mother (Lili Taylor) move to the woodsy town of HEMLOCK GROVE, a high school girl is brutally murdered, and Peter finds himself fending off suspicions that he's the killer -- and a werewolf. But Peter's equally suspicious of Roman Godfrey (Bill Skargård), a wealthy classmate he believes to be a vampire, or "upir," with an insatiable thirst for blood, a sideshow of a sister (Nicole Boivin/Michael Andreae) and a mother (Famke Janssen) with mysterious powers. The plot thickens when a second girl turns up dead, and Peter and Roman team up to find the source of the town's bad karma.

Is it any good?

QUALITY

Even though they have nothing in common, it's hard not to compare the horror-thriller Hemlock Grove with the political drama House of Cards. Mostly because the critically lauded House of Cards -- which marks the second of Netflix's forays into original series territory (the first was the fish-out-water mobster drama Lilyhammer) -- was so good, both in terms of quality, story, and acting, that you'd expect Hemlock Grove to follow suit. But prepare to be disappointed, dear viewers, for Hemlock Grove is no House of Cards. (And you should also prepare to get totally grossed out in episode 2.)

Even diehards of the genre will find fault with the show's uneven mix of hokey and horrific elements; a storyline that's often confusing; and acting that isn't always up to standard. (Notable exceptions are Lili Taylor and Landon Liboiron, who succeed at forging a mother-son relationship that feels refreshingly believable, and Nicole Boivin and Michael Andreae, who join forces to create a character who's hands down the town's most intriguing resident.) If you stick around long enough, Hemlock Grove just might grow on you. But for most viewers, a brief visit will be all they can stomach.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the trend toward the supernatural in movies, television, books, and more. Why have vampires, werewolves, witches and the like become such popular protagonists? Does Hemlock Grove add anything new to the mix, or is it merely a rehash of things we've seen before?

  • How does Hemlock Grove compare to other shows with supernatural themes in terms of tone, style, and substance? Is it a horror series, a straight drama, or a comedy? How does it compare with the book that inspired it?

  • Can Hemlock Grove get away with sexual and violent content other shows can't since it airs exclusively on Netflix? What, if anything, would the producers have to change in order for it to air on cable or network TV?

TV details

Premiere date:April 19, 2013
Cast:Bill Skarsgård, Famke Janssen, Landon Liboiron
Network:Netflix
Genre:Drama
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Book characters, High school, Misfits and underdogs, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:Streaming

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written bydrwhovian May 26, 2013

Good but bad. But good

Although I watched this and am 15, I wouldn't suggest this to younger teens or children for that matter. The show has more mature themes, but if you think your teen is mature enough for sex, violence, drugs, etc without getting the wrong ideas, you should let them go for it. Drugs are commonly shown, mainly smoking and weed, occasionally cocaine. The characters tend to swear at a point even I believe is excessive. Sex isn't as prominent, although there are a few depicting scenes, as well as casual references, but there are also sweet romances (and some stalker-ish ones). What I think the most human thing about the series isn't human- one of the main character's sister, who happens to be deformed; one half of her face (which is covered with her hair for the majority of the season) is mutated and she is mute, due to a laboratory's experimentation. While the vast majority of the school picks on her and ostracizes her, the main characters are all extremely nice to her, and make her feel like she belongs. Her brother, who is one of the most badass, least likely guys to do this, cares for her to no extent. I firmly believe that, if her life were threatened, he'd save her no matter the cost to himself. It's heartwarming to see so much love and respect for others differences in this show.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byAmericanplaya217 July 24, 2013

okay

The show is very violent with bloody and rape scenes, the show has many sex scenes including teens and an affair, there is graphic language and many drinks and drugs used throughout the show. The movie is okay and boring in some episodes but good season finale.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Educator and Parent Written bybkozura March 31, 2015

Adult Supervision Required

With the FCC rules of television viewership out the window due to streaming shows, it's time for parents to take a more active stance on what their kids watch. I believe for any children under 16 there are too many dark themes in this movie. If you are a parent who trusts their teen to make good decisions and you are willing to discuss the things they see in this series with them, then that is the only way I suggest they watch it. IMDB gives the show rating a *hard R* ... And I happen to agree. For clarification on ratings: R rating is "Restricted" - No one under 17 without a parent NC-17 means no children under 17 allowed, period. If you have ever seen an "unrated" version of a movie, that version is actually the NC-17. For instance the Saw movies, Scream, Evil Dead, American Pie, Requiem For a Dream, and Bruno all had this classification, and had to get a special cut for the "R" in theaters. So now, let's break this down into categories The sex- the sex scenes are rather explicit. There is usually a sheet only covering the few inches it needs to to keep it from an NC17 rating. This alone wouldn't be enough to convince me to stop my teen from watching it, but this is probably the least-worrying category. This gets an R from me. The swearing- no cable regulations here- plenty of F-Bombs and See-You-Next-Tuesdays. The swearing is really over the top, exaggerated in nature. Not a great influence, but also not something too troubling. Also an R. The drinking-drugs-and smoking - This category is where it starts to move away from the grey area to the black and white supervise and talk to your kids about it kind of show. There's weed and other more 'casual' drugs, but there is also a very large, very extended use of cocaine by some of the characters, as well as underage drinking to the max. At one point a high school aged kid in the show drives drunk while snorting coke behind the wheel. All the while, projecting the whole thing as a casual exploit. This one is close, hinging on NC-17 category for me, but I will go with R, because it shows some of the negative consequences of the characters decisions. Violence/gore - this is the very reason why I believe watching this show should be supervised for any minor. I am a huge horror fan, and have often enjoyed 'gore-or' films. I have shadowed in open heart surgeries. I don't get grossed out. I can tell you now that some of the transformation scenes have honestly made my stomach turn more than the Saw series or Human Centipede ever did. They are graphic, disturbing at times, and I could easily see even a teen getting nightmares if they thought this was some "Hey this guys a werewolf like Jacob from Twilight! Let's watch this!" and were unprepared (Heck, I could see adults getting nightmares from certain scenes). On top of it some of the murdered girl's corpses and even some tortured living people are pretty disturbing. More so than one would expect going into any other supernatural sort of show. This category is NC-17 for me. Dark Themes - there are definitely darker themes that I think are a good reason to watch and discuss this series with your kids. Deformities, bullying, human experimentation, extreme racism, rape, incest, humanity, teen parenthood, death, among many, many others. This category is NC-17 for me. Summary: Sex- R Swearing- R Drugs/alcohol - R Violence - NC-17 Dark themes - NC-17 > Overall rating- *R Overall recommendation: If you have a teen who is mature enough to handle the dark themes and gore, and discuss some of these with them, then I think it is ok to let a teen watch it. I strongly encourage parental supervision at the very least, but I do think it is an opportunity to discuss some of these issues. Personal opinion: I love this series. 4/5 stars. Really great, though provoking, decent writing, and unexpected twists. It is very different from any show I've ever seen, and some people hate that, but I happen to admire them going for something edgy and different.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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