Brian McGreevy dispels what you may have heard about the Netflix original series based on his novel
Brian McGreevy says that Netflix's “Hemlock Grove,” adapted from his novel of the same name, is probably not what you’d expect.
Even with “Hostel” maestro Eli Roth directing and executive producing, the series shouldn’t be classified as a horror (though McGreevy says that Roth’s stamp is “all over it”).
“I would say if we fall into any specific genre, it would be Gothic,” McGreevy, a co-writer and executive producer on the series, tells TheWrap. “Gothic contains horror elements and it contains soap opera elements.”
Set in a Pennsylvania town, “Hemlock Grove” kicks off with the brutal murder of a teen girl and concentrates on Roman (Bill Skarsgard) – who’s probably some kind of supernatural being – and Peter (Landon Liboiron) – who’s most definitely a werewolf – and their complex families, as well as their possible involvement in the crime.
“I’d say we’re a big, pulpy, Gothic soap opera and really embracing it,” McGreevy says. “For me and [co-writer] Lee Shipman, writing the kill sequences was not more or less interesting than the emotional violence.”
It’s the second original series to come from Netflix after its critically acclaimed “House of Cards.” And like that series, the streaming video site will release all 13 episodes of the first season in one fell swoop on Friday.
The advantages of being a Netflix series are clear. There’s no commercials and no waiting around to find out what happens next. That’s a pro for “Hemlock Grove” as it chooses to tell its story with a slow burn – something McGreevy knows can throw off viewers.
“When you’re trained by network television where these really eventful things have to happen every 12 minutes or whatever, sure. But, I say it’s not like we’re ‘Solaris,’” the 29-year-old jokes. “I think viewers will find that the world opens up over the course of the season. There’s some stuff that happens out of chronology and I think people will be pleasantly surprised by ultimately the scope of the series. We wanted to slowly unravel.”
Unlike the broadcast networks, Netflix series don’t have to appeal to a broad demographic. Its membership ranges over all demos and Netflix’s job is to make sure it provides options that appeal to its membership’s disparate tastes. Yet, once again, McGreevy knows that “Hemlock Grove” may seem like it’s targeted to teens, but argues that its audience stretches beyond that.
“One thing that can be said about choosing adolescents as your central subject matter is that it’s not something that’s essentially only appealing to adolescents,” the Pittsburgh native who has had two screenplays on the prestigious Black List says. “It’s something that’s appealing to everyone. It’s something that everyone has gone through.”
“And on the same token,” he continues. “I would say that teenagers themselves are not exclusively interested in ‘teenage material.’ I would say that it would be most attractive to audience members who have a dark, slightly deviant streak, which I have a pet theory is most people.”
On the surface, the series’ two handsome young leads would make folks believe that the series is intended for young adults. But, viewers will quickly find that the mystery surrounding Roman’s mother, Olivia Godfrey (Famke Janssen), factors very heavily into the series.
“The town of Hemlock Grove wouldn’t have been built without the Godfreys. They are an old family. They are a very moneyed family. There’s a lot of dark skeletons in their closet,” McGreevy explains.
“And then, this very mysterious event happens 20 years ago, which was the introduction of the Olivia into this family, which has completely fractured the company. It’s fractured the family relations and the question of where she has come from and what she wants is one thing that is really driving and underlying the season.”
For McGreevy, the casting of Janssen in the pivotal role was a teenage dream come true.
“Let’s just say it left a very distinct imprint on me when I was 13 years old and I saw ‘GoldenEye’ for the first time, the character of Xenia, oh my God,” he laughs. “So for me, it’s really unreal to be working with her.”