Hemlock Grove (Netflix) Panel at WonderCon 2013

Netflix premieres its new online series Hemlock Grove on Friday, April 19. But don’t expect it to air in single installments like a typical TV show. Instead, all 13 episodes will be released on the same day. This kind of release encourages fans to watch every episode in a marathon, or watch them individually at their leisure.

Want to know more about Hemlock Grove? Here is a brief synopsis from Netflix:

In the shadows of a rusted Pennsylvania steel town, the mangled body of a teenage girl is discovered. As they hunt for a monster among them, rumors mount and many of the eccentric residents become suspects, from the newly arrived gypsy family to the wealthy Godfrey clan. In the twisted world of Hemlock Grove, everyone hides a dark secret. From director Eli Roth comes a chilling supernatural series based on Brian McGreevy’s novel.

At this past weekend’s WonderCon 2013, cast members including Famke Janssen, Dougray Scott, Bill Skarsgard, Landon Liboiron, Penelope Mitchell, Freya Tingley, Aaron Douglas and Kandyse McClure, along with executive producers Eli Roth and Leo Shipman, and author of the original novel, Brian McGreevy, were on hand for a panel that included sneak peek clips from the series, as well as a Q&A.

Here are some things we learned in the panel:

It has one of the most intense werewolf transformation scenes ever shown on film. Fans were treated to a special sneak peek from the series and you could hear the audible sounds of shock and awe as a werewolf transformation scene unlike any other unfolded on screen. Roth said that he had been excited for the” opportunity to do a really intense werewolf transformation scene” and boy, did he deliver. “All we wanted was the wolf coming out and eating its own placenta,” Roth said, adding that they also wanted it to look both painful and beautiful at once, calling it a “weregasm of sorts.” Note: you can see the transformation here.

The werewolf transformation scene is not all CGI. Asked to talk more about the scene, Roth said, “My instincts are always to go practical first. That’s not a negative against CGI, but you’ve got to know when to use both. I wanted to do a violent werewolf transformation.” They used things like pig skin to make the scene as real as possible and some viewers may find it particularly scary. “I want the Twilight fans – who saw a young boy take off his shirt – to be actually terrified,” Roth said. Because of the filming schedule, they were able to piece out the filming of the transformation over a couple of weeks and then put it back into episode 2, because it hadn’t aired yet.

There will be lots of surprises in the series that are not in the novel. Asked to talk about the series, Shipman promised “Lots of great surprises that are not in the novel,” adding that fans of the novel will find plenty of new things to see in the series.

The series was shot like a 13-hour movie. With the freedom of having the entire series available at once, the filming was done a little differently than a regular TV series. The creators agreed that they were telling a 13-hour story and shot the series from that point of view. It means that some episodes may be of different length than others and not all will necessarily have a definite beginning, middle and end. The show will is definitely designed for fans who are going to do binge-viewing.

Famke Janssen enjoyed sinking her teeth into her character. No, Janssen doesn’t play another werewolf (at least that’s not according to the info given at the panel), but she did enjoy stepping into the woman’s complexities. Janssen described her character as “complex”, adding that she “has a complicated relationship with Dougray’s character” and that she was “an intriguing character to sink my teeth into.”

Aaron Douglas plays an “every day” man. Asked to describe his character, Douglas said, “He’s really an everyday man. People will identify with him. He is going to have a hard time when things go out of control in his city. He also has two teenage daughters. He is trying to solve a murder and once he gets passed normal suspects, starts looking at other possibilities.”

Dougray Scott wouldn’t describe his character as “good and decent.” Asked to talk about his character, Scott said, “I wouldn’t say his is good and decent. He is complicated. He is sleeping with his dead brother’s wife. They all have a very interesting arc to go on. None of the characters end up where you expect them to be.”

What do you think now that you’ve heard a bit more about Hemlock Grove from the cast and executive producers (more from there here and here)? Are you planning on checking it out when it is released on Netflix on April 19? Do you plan on binge-viewing the entire series at once?

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