Review: Lovecraft Country

Peter Lennon looks to the dark and occult future of HBO with their new series Lovecraft Country

Peter Lennon
22nd August 2020
It’s been quite the couple of years for HBO, from delivering a less than welcome final season to Game of Thrones to striking gold with Watchmen, only for it to end after one season. Meanwhile, HBO Max is struggling to pick up the same success as competitors Disney+ and Netflix, scrambling for content that won’t come and go on the service. Fortunately, Lovecraft Country has already made an excellent case for being the series of the year.
Credit: IMDb

Lovecraft Country follows veteran Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he travels across Jim Crow America in search of his father, with the help of childhood friend Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) and Uncle George Freeman (Courtney B. Vance). During the journey, they come into conflict with the horrific creatures from the works of Lovecraft, all the while striving to survive against the violent and racial terrors of white America.

The opening scene will immediately catch viewers off guard. Starting in the style of an old war documentary, the sequence makes a slow and subtle change to colour, before unveiling the war as a hodgepodge of late 19th and early 20th Century Science Fiction creatures. Between the tri-pod forces from H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1898) and the Lovecraftian style of cosmic entities, Lovecraft Country presents an America where absurdity converges with its own military-industrial complex; a convergence that doesn’t dissipate with Freeman’s reawakening.

The emergence of Freeman’s reality is one of bright colours and segregation, as he and a fellow black passenger are segregated to the back of the bus for “colored people.” The show’s palette works within the wider trend of moving away from duller schemes that denote a grounded and sombre tone. It captures the beauty of the world, making the racially charged violence and prejudice of white America an all the more potent and corrupt force through its juxtaposition.

Credit: IMDb

Lovecraft’s primary protagonists have been superbly cast. Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Da 5 Bloods) brings an elegant performance to the role of Atticus, transitioning from slow and meditative to warm and compassionate with grace. Meanwhile, Jurnee Smollett (True Blood, Birds of Prey) delivers an exhilarating performance as the charismatic and resourceful Letitia, quickly establishing her character as a force to be reckoned with as the series moves on. Likewise, Courtney B. Vance is a wonderful addition to the cast, who will no doubt serve as a moral compass for the trio, even as the depths of the show become murkier.

Tense, emotional and intrigue to spare, the series has something for everyone to enjoy

While we’re burning through the backlog of television during the pandemic, and the resuming production proving to be slower, Lovecraft Country is a much-needed addition to the week. Tense, emotional and intrigue to spare, the series has something for everyone to enjoy – just as long as you don’t mind the plentiful amount of gore.
Credit: HBO, Youtube
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AUTHOR: Peter Lennon
English Literature undergraduate. Although I primarily write for the Courier's Film section, I do love helping out in the Televsion and Gaming sections as well. I also organise and host livestreams/radio shows as FilmSoc's inaugural Head of Radio. Twitter: @PeterLennon79

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