Starring: Jurnee Smollett, Jonathan Majors, Aunjanue Ellis, Wunmi Mosaku, Abbey Lee, Jamie Chung, Jada Harris and Michael K. Williams.
Executive producers: Misha Green, J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele.
Runtime: 567 minutes
Released: 22nd February 2021
After recently being burnt watching a Lovecraft adaptation The Colour Out of Space starring Nicolas Cage (my favourite actor) I must admit I felt a little trepidation at watching this release. Colour Out of Space was so weird, to the point of being grotesque that I was wary of anything else written by Lovecraft. However I need not have worried because rather than an adaptation of Lovecraft’s work, Lovecraft Country is a homage to the type of stories he wrote. It’s actually an adaptation of a dark fantasy horror novel by Matt Ruff, exploring the conjunction between the horror fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and racism in the United States 1950s.
HBO’s chilling supernatural drama follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he joins up with his childhood friend Leti Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a road trip from Chicago across 1950s America in search of his missing father, Montrose Freeman (Michael K. Williams). Their search-and-rescue turns into a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and monstrous creatures that could be ripped from an H.P. Lovecraft paperback. Without openly referencing it, Lovecraft Country speaks to the Black Lives Matter movement. Which is interesting because if you read anything at all about Lovecraft himself you’ll find that he was reportedly a rightwing, racist and this is actually mentioned in the story too as Atticus reads Lovecraft stories. This presents the question… if a writer, or artist of any type, proves to be racist or in some other way undesirable, can we/ should we still me able to enjoy their work? No answers here. I'll leave that conundrum with you.
Lovecraft Country’s opening episodes are a gripping road trip across America that looks at racial tensions (such as sundown towns where "coloured" people aren’t allowed to stay out after sunset and openly racist police) but also throws in terrifying monsters! You will often be left wondering which is the most scary, the otherworldly monsters, or the very human, racist monsters. The answer will often, if not in fact always, be the latter.
The show is firstly a thrilling adventure, but also full of action and fantasy, as well as historical social commentary. And at the heart of the whole show there is real emotion and a character driven story between Atticus (Tic) and Letitia (Leti) - as it seems from the beginning that they will have a romantic relationship, but a few things - including monsters - seem to get in the way of this happening.
Jurnee Smollett and Jonathan Majors are excellent as Letitia and Atticus - battling with vampires, wizards and evil spirits whilst standing up to vicious racism and hatred in 1950s USA. Their acting is excellent as they take on terrifying and difficult scenes and perform flawlessly. Smollett has some especially challenging scenes and she really shows her pedigree as an actor seemingly effortlessly displaying a wide range of emotions - she is certainly someone that will be at the top of many casting director’s list in the future. And the central characters have outstanding support from Wunmi Mosaku as Leti's half sister (wait until you see her in her skin suit!) and Michael K. Williams as Tic's father.
Producers J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele were involved in the making of this show, so you know that from their impressive content that this is likely to be just as good, if not better… and it is.
With a fantastic soundtrack featuring Nina Simone, Etta James, B.B. King, Gil-Scott Heron and Fats Domino plus many others, I highly recommend Lovecraft Country and I’m already eager to watch the second season.
10 One-Hour Episodes:
- 1. Sundown
- 2. Whitey’s on the Moon
- 3. Holy Ghost
- 4. A History of Violence
- 5. Strange Case
- 6. Meet Me in Daegu
- 7. I am.
- 8. Jig-a-Bobo
- 9. Rewind 1921
- 10. Full Circle
- Compendium of Horrors (New)
- Orithyia Blue and the Imagination of Diana Freeman (New)
- Crafting Lovecraft Country
- Exploring Lovecraft Country
- Lovecraft Country The Craft