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Collins’ Crypt: A Real Time Account Of Marathoning HEMLOCK GROVE

This doesn't end well. 

Collins’ Crypt: A Real Time Account Of Marathoning HEMLOCK GROVE

I get the appeal, but I never got into "marathon" viewing - to me, watching all three Lord of the Rings movies back to back just sounds like a way to waste a perfectly good Saturday and risk getting sick of looking at these characters by the time the third (great) film rolls around. I like to savor things like that (I'm the same with games - the folks who buy the new Dead Space and finish it in two days baffle me. Just rent the damn thing!), and maybe it's just the way my schedule is but my free time (basically, the weekend) is too limited to find much enjoyment in spending all of it doing one thing.

But I'm in the minority, I think, or else Netflix wouldn't be putting so much stock in the idea of "all at once" releases for what are essentially complete seasons of a TV show. Lilyhammer and House of Cards both had their entire first seasons released on one day, and most folks opted to take advantage (particularly for the latter) of the availability, enjoying not having to wait like we do for water-cooler shows like Breaking Bad or Justified. Indeed, Breaking Bad is a rare example of "binge viewing" for me - I watched a whopping FOUR episodes one day, which is unprecedented (though I had an excuse; I was late to the BB game and wanted to finish S4 before S5 premiered), and would probably be inclined to take advantage if it were released that way.

However, I recently found myself with more free time than I've had for a while, and so when it was announced that the next Netflix original series would be a horror property called Hemlock Grove and produced by Eli Roth, I got excited. As it was based on a novel, the idea of watching it all in one or two sittings seemed to make more sense to me than doing the same for their upcoming Arrested Development - sorry, it took seven years for us to get new episodes of Arrested Development, I'm not burning through it all in one day! It's a fine wine, not a six pack of PBR), and plus I thought it would make for a fun idea for a column along the lines of my Minute by Minute pieces. Obviously I wouldn't do an entry for each minute of the damn thing, but a timecoded account of my "adventure" as I watched it all in giant chunks. My original plan was to split it evenly-ish, with seven episodes on Saturday and the other six on Sunday, but things got in the way and I only had time for five on Saturday, leaving the other eight episodes for Sunday. And as you'll see why very soon, I realized I had to split up those eight episodes as well, giving myself a break at the halfway point. Still, an entire series in three sittings? Not too shabby for me.

Unfortunately, that series was Hemlock Grove.

Based on the novel by Brian McGreevy (who adapted many of the episodes himself), Hemlock Grove kicks off with the brutal, inhuman murder of a girl who was apparently sleeping with her teacher (on any other show, this would be an important detail, but the teacher is never seen or heard from again). In an unfortunate coincidence, her death happened right around the time when Peter (Landon Liboiron) and his mother (Lili Taylor) have moved to town, as Peter is in fact a werewolf and folks suspect them of being up to no good because they are gypsies. The town is basically run by the Godfreys, a powerful family lead by psychiatrist Norman (Dougray Scott) and his late brother's wife Olivia, played by Famke Janssen and a terrible accent. The two of them are carrying on an affair that stretches back to when her husband was alive, so it's possible that Norman is the biological father of Roman (Bill Skarsgård). He is the town bad boy, which we know because we see him bedding various women while cutting himself, and also drinking a lot while driving a really cool car. Roman's sister is Shelley, an 8 foot tall girl with a giant eyeball and skin that turns blue when touched, more than likely the result of experimentation done at the Godfrey Institute. And then there's the sheriff (Aaron Douglas) and a Fish & Wildlife officer (Kandyse McClure) who are the only ones that seem to be interested in solving the murder and thus they are merely recurring characters.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.


(Until the very end where it's noted, all times are PM)

SATURDAY

Episode 1 "Jellyfish in the Sky"

2:58 - My adventure begins! I'm excited!

3:02 - The show's opening sequence reveals that we have yet another Skarsgård actor, this one named Bill. He's the brother of Alexander, who is on True Blood, making this a rather lame bit of stunt casting as the shows share other similarities.

3:05 - "Directed by Eli Roth." This bit of news had escaped me so far; I knew he was the producer but not that he'd be directing - this makes it the first thing he has directed since 2007's Hostel Part 2.

3:09 - Peter dreams of the episode title, as well as a snake eating its tail.

3:15 - Olivia has rented out a fun park for Roman's birthday. Because if there's anything an 18 year old asshole loves, it's a carousel? Weird gift.

3:30 - Chief Tyrol from Battlestar! Actor Aaron Douglas makes his first appearance as the town sheriff. Always liked his character until he was revealed as one of the Cylons, at which point the entire show took a nosedive in my opinion.

3:39 - It's been bugging me for the whole show and now I finally figured out who actor Landon Liboiron (Peter) reminded me of - an unkempt Lee Pace.

3:43 - The first episode comes to a close, and I'm a bit worried. Not only did I not see a single shred of a spark behind the camera from Eli (guess he's rusty), but the show itself wasn't particularly compelling. As there is a clear influence of Twin Peaks - a promiscuous high school girl is dead, the town is dependent on a blue collar industry (mining instead of lumber), the characters are all kind of assholes, etc - I was expecting something that would hit the ground running a bit more. The gory aftermath of the girl's death was impressive, but otherwise it was 45 minutes of characters chatting, with the more oddball bits (the mutant sister) seemingly just tossed in at random, and lacking any real draw. If this was a normal show airing on a network, I can't say for sure I'd be adding a season pass to my DVR just yet. But anything with Famke Janssen is worth a look, so... onward!

Episode 2 "The Angel"

3:45 - A cop refers to Peter as a "punk gypsy". Is racism against gypsies still a thing?

3:46 - I pause the show for a bathroom break. In what would prove to be a telling sign, I don't grab the Hemlock Grove novel (which I won a few nights before at the monthly horror trivia hosted by Shock Til You Drop and Fangoria) but the Lords of Salem novelization by Rob Zombie.

3:58 - Roman goes down on a girl after realizing that she is having her period. So he's a vampire? By law, all genre/soap blends must have a vampire, so I guess that would fit.

4:00 - During a scene with Dougray and Famke, I remember that he was originally cast as Wolverine, forced to drop out after Mission Impossible 2 shooting went on too long. I wonder if he ever reminded her of that between takes.

4:06 - "I get this feeling sometimes that something really important is about to happen," Roman says. That'd be nice.

4:07 - Peter watches Night of the Living Dead on his TV. Reportedly this entire production cost $46 million, and with very little of that on the screen, I have to wonder why they were so stingy for the movie selection (NOTLD is in the public domain).

(Shortly thereafter, I doze off for about 10 minutes. At no point during the rest of the episode, or the three I watched right after, did I feel like I missed anything.)

4:22 - Letha claims that an angel has impregnated her. Roman takes the news rather well and then they drive along with the fakest background I've seen in quite some time.

4:30 - Peter repeats the "something important" line. Eventually it'll pay off, right?

4:35 - For the past 24 hours Eli has been RTing people praising the first time we see Peter transform into a werewolf, so I was expecting something pretty good. But no! It's just a total ripoff of the American Werewolf In London transformation, except with (thankfully decent) digital FX replacing Rick Baker's incredible prosthetic work. I like that after it sheds its human skin it eats it, but these people who were blown away by it were either seriously undereducated in Movie Lycanthropy 101, or were lying just to get Eli's attention.

4:36 - Episode 2 ends, and I'm still not particularly engaged by anything in the show so far. It's ostensibly a murder mystery, but no one seems that interested in who killed the girl, and while there were a couple of flashbacks in the opening scenes of the pilot, there havn't been any since, nor are people spending much time talking about her, making it hard to really care about her death the way we did for Laura Palmer. Peter is obviously NOT the werewolf that killed her, so I assume he has a good reason to find out who did as he will likely be a suspect, but if he's concerned he's pretty good at hiding it. Also, the transformation should have been at the end of episode 1, as that's the sort of thing that can draw folks in for a second episode, but is asking a lot when it's the most exciting thing that's happened in 95 minutes.

Episode 3 "The Order of the Dragon"

4:38 - I realize that actress Freya Tingley (who plays Christina, a young girl/budding novelist that takes an interest in Peter) would make a fine choice for a young Barbara Steele if they ever did a biopic of her.

4:45 - My favorite moment of the show so far - a dream sequence where Roman explains that the town river flows north and that it screws up the birds' migratory patterns. "Stupid ass birds!" he shouts in a very Hayden/"I hate sand!"-ian manner, as some digital birds suddenly dive bomb into the water below. I have no idea what the point of any of it is, but it was amusing at least.

4:47 - Kandyse McClure (Clementine) is revealed to be a lesbian who doesn't treat her lovers very well and also goes to morning mass. I liked her quite a bit on Battlestar (and she's got a pair of the most alluring eyes I've ever seen), so I'm happy to see her joining the cast here.

4:51 - Battlestar reunion! Tyrol and Dualla, off to investigate the second murder.

5:10 - I pause to go on Twitter and ask those who enjoy the show to explain exactly WHY they are enjoying it, noting that being attracted to any particular cast member does not count as a valid excuse (or else I'd have plenty of reasons; Janssen is a goddess and I just explained my attraction to McClure, but I'm also quickly smitten by newcomer Penelope Mitchell as Letha). The strongest answer was "It's kooky, like a R-rated Dark Shadows. I think it's pretty decent." Everything else was of the "eh it's better than nothing" variety - strong praise! My favorite response was from @AkivaLindelof, who said " I like that they use my patented 'unhealthy urine sepia' filter."

5:32 - OK, now we're getting somewhere. Clementine asks Peter, point blank, if he is a werewolf. He denies it, but I like that she's that up front about asking.

5:45 - A hint of incest! Well, it's clearly modeled after pay cable shows, which seemingly all have incestuous subplots at one point or another, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

5:50 - OK, this was probably the best episode so far but I'm still aghast at how boring it is. I mean, I know that they want people to watch in marathon sessions to challenge the network model, but do we have to? Why would anyone beyond writers with a deadline be compelled to keep watching this thing? In nearly three hours they have yet to introduce a plotline that interests anyone (I don't think the first dead girl was even mentioned in this episode, unless you count referring to the new one as "the second") or a truly engaging character. Even the fact that Peter is a werewolf doesn't seem to really interest anyone.

Episode 4 "In Poor Taste"

5:48 - I notice for the first time that the book is not that thick (318 pages, and the font size isn't exactly tiny). Is this the result from having three goddamn Hobbit movies? Are we going to start seeing even more adaptations that take longer to watch than it would take to just read the source material?

5:55 - Three hours in, we finally have a really good line. During one of their many spats, Roman asks Olivia "Are you ever so cryptic that you yourself don't understand what you're saying?" Heh.

6:10 - I realize Dougray Scott hasn't been in this episode yet. I also notice that some other characters have been in every episode so far despite being billed as guest stars (Scott is part of the main cast), which means they probably die.

6:26 - It dawns on me that this show is oddly tame for what should be a TV-MA affair along the lines of True Blood or Game of Thrones. There have been bits of nudity and violence, but why are they holding back?

6:29 - Dougray finally appears. Unlike this show, I try to follow through on things in a timely manner.

6:30 - Shelley can't speak so she uses a sort of text-to-voice device to communicate in person, and uses IM otherwise. But her hands are all mangled, so she has to type everything with the end of a pencil. I note that the closeup shows her typing "M" and then the space key, but nothing she was saying ended with the letter M. Good work!

6:34 - Another snoozefest comes to a close. I need to get ready for a wedding reception (yup, just the reception - my friends got married at the Justice of the Peace and opted to use their dough to throw just the party. Heroes.) and wonder if I should squeeze another episode in or just relax. I realize that the more I get through now, the less I'll have to suffer through tomorrow.

Episode 5 "Hello, Handsome"

6:36 - Please be good, please be good...

6:44 - OK here's something I like - Pryce, the guy who runs the Godfrey Institute (Joel de la Fuente) claims that he "suffers" from something called "Hysterical Strength," which is basically the "Mother can lift a car to save her child" thing but without the need to have his kid pinned under an Impala. He just needs to get into an argument with Olivia, I guess.

7:05 - I encounter my first "buffering" hangup. I make several "this is the future of television" jokes in my head as I also realize that for the first time I'm actually thankful for the interruption this frequent glitch provides.

7:12 - One thing that does work for me about this show is that Peter and Roman are fast friends, not rivals/enemies as I expected them to be based on the first episode or two. Roman doesn't have much of a stake in the proceedings (whereas Peter is, theoretically anyway, trying to clear his name and find the wolf before the next full moon), but it's interesting to see the rich asshole kid take on a somewhat heroic role and turn this into a mild buddy dynamic at times.

7:13 - I note that the closeup of the IM from the previous episode is incorrect; Shelley's portion was on the right before, now it's on the left.

7:16 - One of the more interesting things that's happened so far; Peter's cousin (Destiny) eats some guts of the murder victim and has memories of her last moments, which she narrates in a monotone and includes the "ding, ding, ding" sound that her car was making at the time from being turned off with the key in the ignition. In addition to being too damn slow, this show suffers from a severe lack of things that you don't see too often, so more stuff like this, please!

7:18 - Another thing I like about Pryce: when he dictates his notes into his recorder, he includes the punctuation. "She affects an enigmatic manner, semicolon, the forest ranger coat, comma, her guileless manner, comma, all carefully designed to put her subjects at ease, full stop." He also reminds me a bit of actor Reggie Lee, who usually plays similarly intriguing but clearly evil characters. Who remembers Persons Unknown?

7:24 - Throughout the series we've seen Famke administer some sort of "special" eyedrops, and every time they give us a closeup of her dilating pupil as if it was the first time. How about explaining what the hell they do, show that has gone almost 5 hours without telling us much?

7:28 - Okay, this is the best episode of the show so far, though it's still not exactly GOOD. Still, we've had the increased use of Pryce and the Institute (far more intriguing than the werewolf stuff), a guy getting punched by Dougray, and (best of all) Roman getting a blow job (from the wife of the guy who just got punched!) while bleeding all over her from his latest self-inflicted wound. I then realize that since this is all adapted from a book, 5 of 13 episodes would be roughly the book's first act, so it's understandable that things would finally start to pick up. Pity that I have to stop now that it's finally getting better, but at least I'm no longer dreading Sunday as much.

SUNDAY

Episode 6 "The Crucible"

4:04 - Okay, I am refreshed! Ready for four more episodes!

4:10 - A new character I actually like; a very blasé sister of the murder victim, who tells a pretty awful story about her parents killing the deceased girl's dog rather than let it be sad about going to new owners. Unfortunately (as I realize later), we never see her again.

4:16 - Letha puts together a pretty odd combination of ice cream, which reminds me that I have some Samoa ice cream from Breyer's. My mind wanders a lot during this show.

4:34 - Dougray googles Lod, LLC (a company that might be buying their institute). The music suggests that this is really intriguing and important, but A. they barely come up again and B. I can't stop laughing at the fake Wikipedia looking site that they've mocked up for this one scene.

4:35 - His search is interrupted by his wife, scolding him over IM for buying the wrong color paint for the nursery. They sure are taking their unwed, teenaged daughter's pregnancy pretty well.

4:45 - A pretty good sequence that cuts between Olivia and Norman going at it (Famke leaves her bra on!) while Christina claws the shit out of her boyfriend's face. Is the show only allowed one gory moment per episode? At least they're exciting when they happen.

4:46 - A hilarious bit where Norman makes fun of his wife's paint request for Olivia's amusement. Pretty coldhearted, but it's not like his wife is any prize anyway.

4:54 - The episode ends, and my newfound excitement has largely gone with it. Another drawn out episode peppered with occasional moments of excitement or entertainment, but far too much filler to make it worthwhile.

Episode 7 "Measure Of Disorder"

4:55 - I realize that the episodes are not only erratic with regards to their runtime (anywhere from 45 to 59 minutes) but they also don't really end or begin or anything all that exciting, which is one of the few benefits of the marathon viewing concept - the episodes have no self contained subplots or anything like that (as opposed to other serialized shows, which have distinct standalone tales that serve to enhance the overall narrative), so if you're watching all at once it won't be as noticeable, and if you want to leave halfway through there's no real reason to wait until the end of an episode, as they end on notes that aren't much different than any other scene that preceded it. I'd be curious to read someone's recaps of each episode in a traditional manner (the two or three reviews I've seen appear to be of the entire season, not just the pilot, though I haven't read any yet), as it seems like there's so little happening in each one.

5:03 - For Christmas my wife got me this thing called "Reptangles," which are these colored blocks in the shape of turtles that you can snap together and make little mosaic sculptures. She figured it'd be something I could fiddle with during boring movies that didn't require 100% of my attention. It's been a while since I've needed to resort to it, but there's been no better example of such a thing in quite some time. I begin to assemble! Here is a photo of one turtle (I realize there's no scale - they're about 3 inches long.)



5:17 - At long last, we get an explanation, sort of, for Olivia's eyedrops. It's a gypsy medicine of some sort, and she has run out of her supply and thus needs Peter's mom to help get her some more. It appears to be related to their vague vampirism.

5:25 - Peter is turning down Letha's very forward advances. I no longer have any understanding of his character.

5:36 - Never mind. He gives in.

5:40 - I finish my sculpture!



5:42 - Roman goes down on another girl, and it finally makes sense why my female friends seem to be enjoying this show more than any male friends - it's about a bad boy vampire who also enjoys performing oral sex. Hits all the sweet spots!

5:44 - Wait, now he's raping her and using his brainwashing powers of persuasion to make her forget all about it. So there goes that theory.

Episode 8 "Catabasis"

5:46 - Well at least seven episodes are done, which means I'm closer to the end than the beginning.

5:50 - Pryce faces off against Roman. Honestly I wish Pryce were the star of the show and all things centered around the Institute.

6:01 - Roman is now in a coma, which means we get a lot of dream sequences, including a look at Shelley without her "freak" makeup. She's actually quite lovely. Also, the dream sequences are the only things on this show that offer any sort of visual spark. It's shockingly flat otherwise.

6:05 - I start another "Reptangle" sculpture.

6:12 - Actor Julian Richings appears, proving that this was shot in Canada as he tends to appear in just about every single genre project shot in the North.

6:18 - Possibly because they realized it was a rare highlight, they repeat the "Stupid ass birds!" dream sequence.

6:24 - The goddamn werewolf appears again for the first time in, what, six episodes?

6:30 - More oral sex, and I realize that something worth noting appears to be happening every six minutes. Unfortunately the episode will be over by the time the next one strikes, so I guess that's it for this one. As this show goes, this episode wasn't bad, but now that we're nearing the end of act 2 in the overall structure, shouldn't things be getting more exciting? I mean, this one ended with Shelley whining about Roman being in a coma, saying "Come back!", but in over seven hours I have yet to discern what purpose she even serves on the show, which means it makes no difference to us whether or not Roman is there for her. Are we supposed to assume she's the killer and Roman keeps her in check? If so, why didn't Roman confide that info to Peter after learning he was a werewolf? Bros tell bros everything, man...

Episode 9 "What Peter Can Live Without"

6:32 - My last episode before taking a break! This proved to be the highlight of yesterday's session; will lightning strike twice?

6:41 - The episode is directed by David Straiton, and I notice that save for Eli, all of the episode directors thus far have the initials D.S. (the others are Deran Sarafian and David Semel).

6:55 - I complete my second turtle structure.



7:01 - I stare at my cat Meeko, who has stretched out and seems to be mocking me. "I get to relax while you watch this nonsense. Sucker."



7:06 - Yet another goddamn eyedrop closeup.

7:15 - A truly awful "things getting too HAIRY" pun threatens to make me quit this show once and for all.

7:21 - I finally give up trying to figure out where I have seen her and IMDb Ms. Mitchell. As it turns out, I haven't seen her in anything. It's truly fitting that a Hemlock Grove-related mystery would have such a shrug of a resolution.

7:23 - My other cat (Butters) jumps up, presumably to make sure I don't do anything stupid like watch another episode just yet. I break to do something far more enjoyable (writing my Lords of Salem review). My prayers that this would be a jolt like episode 5 have gone unanswered.



BREAK

Episode 10 "What God Wants"

8:55 - Okay, Hemlock Grove. I don't like you and you clearly don't like me or anyone else that cares about things like pacing or compelling narratives, so let's just get this over with.

9:05 - I wrote down "Make fun of" but I don't know what this means and when I cued up the scene about ten minutes into the episode, nothing triggered it.

9:17 - Roman has found out about Peter and Letha, but they are still friends despite his initial anger (jealousy?) about it.

9:24 - Norman asks Letha if she'll watch a bad movie with him. How about Last Exorcism 2? Incidentally, I THOUGHT that would be the worst thing with Eli Roth's name on it this year. I was so naive!

9:25 - Peter has turned into a werewolf, and he instructed Roman not to follow him once he does... so of course Roman is now trying to follow him. But I don't get why he's even there in the first place, if not to be like Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street and observe what happens when he's no longer in control. Also I was pretty sure they were going to make out during their last talk before Peter went off to turn werewolf. I haven't seen such homoerotic tension since Witchboard.

9:35 - My third (and final) Reptangle. Not that the show got more exciting and I didn't want to break concentration; I just realized I shouldn't have anything in my hands or else it might end up being thrown at the TV in exasperation.



9:37 - OK, to be fair, this was legitimately horrific, as Sheriff Tyrol's teen daughters were just killed by the werewolf. They were annoying, but a few minutes ago they told their dad that they loved him, which I thought was foreshadowing his death, not theirs. Good on you, Hemlock Grove. It took ten hours but you finally did something scary and ballsy.

9:44 - One of the weirdest endings this show has done yet - two kids we've never seen before happen upon some evidence about the killings. It's the sort of scene that should be the cold open for a typical procedural show, and certainly not a cliffhanger of any sort. Do they just pick spots to break these episodes at random, or what?

Episode 11 "The Price"

9:46 - Guess it's a good time to note that the opening title theme and design is pretty good. Not Game of Thrones good, but solid. I haven't gotten sick of it despite hearing it eleven times in the past thirty hours, so there's something.

9:51 - I just now realized that no answer to "who is the killer?" would either satisfy or anger me, because the mystery is so drawn out and uninvolving that it simply doesn't even matter. I wouldn't even make the effort to wonder where the person was during the crimes we saw or why I didn't notice he/she was unaccounted for, which is a huge failure in a mystery of this sort. And hell, even if it did turn out to be, say, the sheriff (clearly seen outside investigating the yard while his daughters were being murdered), I wouldn't even care about the gaping plot hole - I'd just be happy that they had finally bothered to PROGRESS THE GODDAMN STORY.

9:58 - I can't tell if Lili Taylor's character is supposed to be extremely laid back, or if the actress (wisely) didn't want to bother making the plot developments sound interesting. Her house has been destroyed and her son is injured, and she's like "Okay, whatever..."

10:01 - Peter prepares a steak in a scene that perfectly encapsulates this series' dedication to dragging everything out. The idea is that he can barely let it cook before eating it, but they show us a full minute of him standing by the stove watching it and flipping it over anyway (and seasoning it with blood!), rather than just suggest it quickly and move on to something more interesting. I hope someone fan-edits this entire series down to maybe three hours or so; I'd be curious to see if it's actually entertaining and engaging without everything moving in slow-motion or being unnecessarily padded out.

10:37 - Peter explains that he needs bacon grease. Something about having to lose his face. Because this is Hemlock Grove, he has to explain this twice. Though I'm amused that the only thing I've been inspired to note since the last timestamp is once again about meat. Maybe this means I'm hungry? I grab some leftover pasta.

10:42 - Peter gets an axe from Olivia and smashes a mirror with it, making me wish I was watching Meat Loaf's "Anything for Love" video. I focus on my pasta.

Episode 12 "Children of the Night"

10:41 - Clementine, my interest in whom has long since subsided, is trapped in a cage. I struggle to remember the last time I saw her.

10:44 - We learn that Jenny, the attractive girl who was nice to Shelley a bunch of episodes ago, has been found dead. Gotta love a nearly action-free show that skips over a kill scene.

10:45 - Clementine is trying to cut herself free while Olivia drones on, and I'm half convinced that Netflix is glitching because the scene seems to be going on forever. The editors on this show must have had a pretty easy gig. "Just assemble every bit of footage, in order, and you're done! We have to make 13 episodes even though any rational thinking human would have given this story four at most!"

10:58 - Clementine is killed off. Granted she's a supporting character, but compared to the sheriff's daughters (or Peter's cat, pretty much the only other casualty I can think of), it's a huge plot twist, comparatively.

11:10 - Shelley is informed of Jenny's death and takes it pretty hard. I try to find the actress' name who played her and turn up nothing. Can anyone help? IMDb's page for the show is shockingly spotty (it doesn't have McClure at all, either).

11:17 - HOLY SHIT! ...is something I would say if this hadn't burned all of its goodwill long before it finally got to this point, where we find out who the werewolf is (Christina, for the record). Seems she can just do whatever she wants, so if she decides she wants to turn into a werewolf, she will? A perfectly fitting half-assed explanation for this particular show. I'll give it a few points though - it's definitely the only time the phrase "This must be what it feels like to cum!" was uttered during a villain's big "this is why/how I did it" speech. Like I said earlier, though - the story meandered way too much to actually care who it was, since no one else seemed to.

11:20 - Now we're getting flashbacks of how she pulled off each kill. Basically she's jealous of any girl who is sexually active? This is a motive that'd be way better in a slasher movie, I must say.

11:23 - Peter lives up to his promise to get his face eaten. Cool. Also, I should point out that this abandoned church set is the best the show has offered so far, and it's a pity that they didn't work it into the thing sooner. Beats the hell out of Peter's trailer or Norman's office, that's for sure.

11:25 - The episode ends with Letha trying to break a rusty chain while Roman wields a giant sharp axe a few feet away. Teamwork?

Episode 13 "Birth"

11:28 - The episode doesn't autoplay, for some reason. I have to turn my Xbox controller back on and hit play. I appreciate the attempt to spare me, Netflix, but there's certainly no turning back now.

11:29 - We begin "six months earlier," which confuses me as Peter and Christina are already pals. Did this show (which had them meeting for the first time in the first episode) take place over 6 months? Why did he only turn once? Why - ah, I don't care.

11:32 - A wolf fight! Peter comes back to life as a wolf and fights the Christina-wolf. It's kind of awesome, and they appear to be real wolves in closeups.

11:37 - Peter somehow survives dying as a human AND dying as a wolf? OK, McGreevy.

11:40 - Lili Taylor explains that the power of love (from Letha) brought Peter back to life. Are you fucking kidding me?

11:46 - Hey, LOD, LLC finally comes into play again. It's Clementine's boss.

11:57 - Letha dies in childbirth, which is a huge bummer but kind of a foregone conclusion - the villain was killed in the first five minutes of the episode, and even THIS show couldn't drag out a happy epilogue for 50 minutes. But why can't Peter bring her back through the power of love?

12:01a - Lili Taylor is telling a story about a dream where a baby is peeing on someone. I can't even...

12:02a - The "Hysterical strength" thing finally pays off as Pryce destroys his desk.

12:05a - I realize there are 20 minutes to go and nearly break down crying as Olivia begins telling her own backstory. And here I thought the last episode of American Horror Story (first season) was too much of an epilogue.

12:14a - At long last, the one other mystery of the show is resolved - the "angel" that knocked up Letha is none other than Roman. Hey-o!

12:16a - A forced subtitle during another of Olivia's flashbacks comes on and remains on-screen for another two minutes until I turn it off manually. It's like Netflix knows any sane person would be nodding off by now and thus is trying to keep them actively engaged.

12:19a - A brief sorta incestuous moment between Roman and Olivia (he kisses her, and then bites her tongue off, telling her she talks too much) makes me long for the similarly Oedipal Bates Motel, which has the opposite problem of this in that it's too rushed and over-plotted. Also, Roman's got a black tank top on now, so they're really going all out with the True Blood connection.

12:21a - LOD LLC guy is working a Sudoku. If not for the Reptangles I probably would have been doing a lot of those during this too.

12:22a - Holy shit, they're setting up a second season! The balls on them!

12:25a - It's over! My time with Hemlock Grove has come to an end... sort of. I still have to write all these notes up, and because I don't learn I'll probably read the damn book to see if it works any better when not being drawn out. I sure as hell won't try to read it all in one sitting, that's for sure.


In closing, I certainly haven't changed my mind about marathon viewing, though perhaps ironically I'm not sure if watching one installment a week would be beneficial. There's definitely a "big picture" benefit to the series as a whole; each episode on its own is pretty dull but when you put it all together there's a real story and even some decent plot turns (I also like that very few characters were out and out EVIL; they had their own agendas but rarely fucked over others just for the fun of it). If you were just watching one at a time, you might never actually notice anything progressing when you factor in all the things you saw/did in between episodes. But if they wanted to make the viewers actually WANT to see "what happens next" the way Breaking Bad and other serialized shows do so effortlessly, they have failed miserably. I guarantee you if I wasn't already planning to watch the thing in time for this week's column, it'd take me all summer to slog through it all, and I'd probably have a lot more pictures of Reptangles in my phone by the time it was done.

I'll let you know how the book is, though.

Brian Collins's photo About the Author: Brian, aka BC, has been watching horror movies since the age of 6, and twenty years later decided to put it to good use, both as a writer for Bloody-Disgusting as well as launching his own site, Horror Movie A Day, which Roger Ebert once read and misunderstood the points that were being made.
t K