If you like your science fiction and horror with some gritty and brutal realism thrown in for good measure then it’s a fair bet that you will enjoy the first season of Lovecraft Country.
First aired in August 2020 to largely positive reviews from viewers and critics alike, Lovecraft Country combines epic fantastical moments with emotional family drama that the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer impressed so many with, and fans of that show might find big appeal within Lovecraft Country. Yes, this show has a lot of heart and a lot of passion. But it also has plenty of monster-filled body horror and anxiety-building tension that will satisfy fans of genre-bending television the world over.
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Based on the 2016 novel of the same name written by Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country is set in the southern US in the 1950s, where racism and racial segregation were rife. Lovecraft Country follows a veteran of the Korean War, Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors), as he travels across the southern states to find his missing father, with childhood friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) in tow.
But naturally, things are never that simple, and if you think the epic, monster and alien filled war-torn world we witness in Atticus’ dream at the start of episode one is just a product of his imagination from reading too much H.P. Lovecraft then get ready for a surprise, as the world that Lovecraft Country builds as the season progresses is one that is visually stunning as well as scary, gory and exciting, and grounded in the real world.
But the huge influence of sci-fi/horror fiction author H.P. Lovecraft across Lovecraft Country‘s first season is an interesting one, as Lovecraft himself was a notorious racist, yet Lovecraft Country is awash with black art, talent and creativity, as well as black history and references. Clever writing from show creator Misha Green and writers such as Get Out writer/director Jordan Peele have ensured that Lovecraft Country is filled with references not only to black writers, musicians, and politicians, but also films in general. Horror, sci-fi, adventure and otherwise all get a hat-tip at some point here, proving that Lovecraft Country is a big melting pot of love for its influences, ideas on how best to use those influences, and executing them in a way all of its own that’s more of a homage than any kind of ripping off.
As the season progresses and Atticus and company meet more interesting and important characters, human and otherwise, the only fault could be that some viewers may find it hard to keep track of everything that is going on, and sure, a lack of concentration won’t do you any favours here. But investing your time, effort and patience into Lovecraft Country will certainly be a rewarding experience.
Aside from the intelligent writing and powerful direction of Misha Green and crew, the cast do a phenomenal job. Jonathan Majors as Atticus Freeman instils his character with a genuine sensitivity despite being battle hardened from the relentless cruelty of war. That Atticus goes on a dangerous journey looking for his father, despite tales of his drunken and abusive past, says it all about Majors’ character here, and his performance deserves much praise and acclaim. The same could be said for Jurnee Smollett’s Letitia Lewis. An artist and activist, Smollett delivers a confident and powerful performance that can be as fun as it is passionate, exciting and emotional. But looking through the cast, Courtney B. Vance, Michael K. Williams, Abbey Lee, Jada Harris and the rest all give memorable performances that will make repeat viewings even more enjoyable.
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The special features on the DVD box set are impressive and informative, with various featurettes looking at everything from the themes of the show, the set design and the props, to the creature design and Lovecraft Country‘s range of influences. Interviews with the cast and crew prove what a fun and rewarding project the show must have been to work on, as well as showing all the hard work on and off camera and behind the scenes that went into making Lovecraft Country a success.
Overall, Lovecraft Country season one is an epic adventure filled with magic, monsters, sex, gore and more. While its racist content might be hard to swallow for some, it is important to remember the time that the show is set in and who has written and created it. If anything, the racist themes in Lovecraft Country are of timely importance in the current climate. That said, strapping yourself in and paying attention will ensure an exciting, dramatic, fun and at times scary ride through Lovecraft Country.
Lovecraft Country is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.