Eli Roth & Famke Janssen On 'Hemlock Grove'
Eli Roth and Famke Janssen are back making horror as exciting as it is frightening in Hemlock Grove, the Netflix original series, which returns today with a full slate of Season Two. Grove follows a fictional small town in Pennsylvania where brutal murders tied into the supernatural have been occurring.
Roth and Janssen agree on a character-first method, but engage in different ways. Roth suggests using the characters as an audience proxy, and having them react in an organic way that the audience themselves might. “What makes the horror relatable to you is when you feel you’re making a decision the character would make, that’s when it’s terrifying,” he told uInterview. Janssen believes in using mild humor to punctuate the darkness. “Not only is it scary but it’s delicious to watch on top of it,” she told uInterview.
Seasons One and Two of Hemlock Grove are now available in their entirety on Netflix.
FAMKE: I always think that when you set up a character you never want to make that character that predictable, so the fact that we had that starting point in season 1 and then completely flipped it on its head and end up in season 2 where we end up with her, is, I think very fun and surprising. Characters as diabolical as Olivia should be unpredictable.
ELI: Well, the nice thing about Netflix is you get to see everything at once and get everyone's reaction at once. It's not like we spread the first season out over thirteen episodes - as soon as it hit, 13 hours later someone had watched everything so we always approached it like a thirteen hour movie, and we were stretching those 13 hours out to fit the book, and end so that the book ended where the show ended. And in season 2, we looked at it and we felt that at certain points we could've had it a little tighter and now that we're off-book there are several things we want to do. One, we have an amazing cast anchored by Famke and Dougray Scott and we want to write for them in a way that we really couldnât before because we were constricted to the novel but also have twists and turns and make them ten really tight, really tense, really fun, really intriguing episodes, and also up the ante on all levelsâon the characters, take them in directions you didnât want but also have those signature gore moments and scare moments where people go âOh my god, I canât believe they did that. We want people watching the show going like âYou will not believe what they did on Hemlock Groveâ and thatâs where Netflix was great because I would present an idea that would be completely out of left field and they would ask if I could take it a step farther and I would go âCan I!â We had a great team and Chic Eglee is a terrific showrunner; he worked under James Cameron on Dark Angel and so many great people. He was just a fan of the show and he said âWell, hereâs where Iâd take the show and what Iâd doâ and he had a whole bunch of ideas that no one would ever have thought of and it gave a whole new energy and life to the show. He brought in new cast membersâyou know Madeline Brewer from Orange is the New Black came in and thereâs just this new energy to the show and weâre really excited about it.
ELI: No, and what’s great is that we all feel the same way. I mean, my feeling with gore and scares or sex is that it’s got to make you wanna watch the show more and say, “What happens next?” and sometimes if you go too far people just tune out—they go “Eh, it gets boring.” It’s true that adding more blood, doesn’t make it scarier, doesn’t make it great—it can actually make the scene boring ‘cause you’ve seen too much and you’re like “Get on with it” so in terms of that, everyone approaches it from a place of story. It wasn’t about setting limitations on the show, it’s all about story, about making the viewers say “What happens next, what happens next?”
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