How did reviewers react to Netflix's first jab at an original horror series?
Not so well, it turns out. It's been nearly a week since all 13 episodes of the Eli Roth-produced Hemlock Grove hit the streaming giant's "Watch Instantly" service, and though viewership over the weekend reportedly topped the numbers of Netflix's last original effort, House of Cards, critics didn't come away impressed. As you'll see below, a few of them found some merit in the steamy supernatural series, but most blasted it for bad acting, slow pacing and an over-reliance on gruesome horror tropes. Check out the best snippets from more than a dozen mainstream reviews of the show -- from measured reactions to outright slams -- below.
"Anyway, Hemlock is stiff where it needs to be fluid in its creative fearlessness. There’s a disconnect to it that is jarring -- as if it was once a puzzle that got dropped on the floor. But the missing pieces don’t create a mystery about their absence. Instead the show just feels haphazardly glued together." - Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter
"Let me be clear: As a for-profit visual arts experience, Hemlock Grove is terrible in ways that mock the meaning of the word 'terrible,' with clunky acting, tra-la-la transitions and at least one monster that walks like a bad Frankenstein..." - Mary McNamara, The Los Angeles Times
"Netflix follows up the acclaimed political melodrama that helped redefine binge viewing with Hemlock Grove, a laughably inept, stubbornly un-thrilling supernatural mystery from filmmaker Eli Roth that mashes up elements of Twilight, Twin Peaks, Dark Shadows, Rosemary's Baby and any number of superior scare classics. An average episode of The Vampire Diaries offers more wit, surprise and true horror than this derivative amateur night of mannered, feigned fright." - Matt Roush, TV Guide
"... the series itself is undistinguished, playing like a slightly saucier version of the CW’s supernatural youth-skewing soaps. Disemboweling teenagers is a tried-and-true horror staple, but beyond dedicated genre fans, a few sips of Hemlock will more than suffice." - Brian Lowry, Variety
"If you’re not bothered by the pokiness and the generally indifferent performances (with the exception of Ms. Taylor, Mr. Liboiron and Famke Janssen as the rich boy’s scary mother), you can enjoy the pretty Ontario locations, handsomely photographed on Netflix’s generous budget, and the sustained eeriness. It’s not Twin Peaks, but it’s better than a trip to, say, Harper’s Island." - Mike Hale, The New York Times
"...often very good and just as often very dull..." - Linda Stasi, The New York Post
"Hemlock Grove takes its time with story lines, ensuring that each one has plenty of room to ripen. It carries out every dastardly deed with gusto, but still offers enough moments of levity. (Sometimes you just need a Dirty Dancing reference to lighten the mood.) Not once during the 13 hours was I bored by the characters (a testament to strong performances) or their stories (even the Roman-Peter-Letha teenage love triangle seemed fresh), though it occasionally felt like Hemlock held back." - Jessica Shaw, Entertainment Weekly
"Where it tries so desperately to be eerie and esoteric, it winds up as derivative as anything the basic TV channels churn out on a regular basis: hammy, hackneyed and disjointed. There are moments here when it feels as if the whole thing was glued together with Pritt Stick. What's more, you get the impression not even Brian McGreevy, who developed Hemlock from his own novel, or Eli Roth, the series's executive producer and pilot director, have the foggiest idea what's going on and where the story is heading." - Patrick Smith, The Telegraph
"The writing is ham-fisted and occasionally just howlingly bad, and the performances are OK for the most part, but Famke Janssen is godawful. The weird thing is that Hemlock Grove is almost watchable, at least for the three episodes Netflix sent to critics." - David Wiegand, The San Francisco Chronicle
"It's a high-concept, low-budget genre-busting gothic horror soap that's full of non sequiturs, loose ends, dead ends and split ends. Grove also establishes just how hard it is to mimic HBO's 'auteur'-driven mandate -- now in full throttle with Game of Thrones, which in effect says that if you give a brilliant writer enough rope he'll construct either a masterpiece -- or hang himself. - Verne Gay, Newsday
"To its credit, the series has rich production values and a better cast than this kind of fare usually attracts, including Dougray Scott and Lili Taylor. It manages to be lush, gross, frightening, and ridiculous - all at the same time." - David Hiltbrand, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Hemlock Grove is not mainstream drama, it’s a dark soap with nudity, profanity, drugs and, most disturbingly, too many underdeveloped characters with largely unexplained back stories." - Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Hemlock Grove, unfortunately, is absolutely dreadful. The Roth-directed drama is an almost unwatchable muddle of horror tropes and painfully creaky dialogue." - Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast
Have you watched Hemlock Grove yet? Do you agree with reviewers? And if you haven't seen it, head over Netflix and check it out.