HBO have put out another one of their drama-filled shows, this time in the form of horror meets sci-fi, with more monsters and social commentary than you can shake a stick at. Lovecraft Country feels a bit like American Horror Story spotted Get Out on a dating app and they ended up having a baby in the whirlwind that is 2020. Did that make any sense? We hope so.
The story follows our lead, Atticus, as he travels across 1950s America at the height of the racist Jim Crow laws, in search of his missing father who last wrote to him from a place known as Lovecraft Country – hence the show name. ‘Lovecraft’ may well ring a bell, as he was a famous writer of American horror and sci-fi pulp fiction in the early 1900s, but despite his writing talents, he was notoriously racist. Here we have the inspiration for the series.
Written by Misha Green, Lovecraft Country is certainly well produced – it’s shot nicely, the lighting is perfect and the costume department have absolutely nailed it. However, what’s most impressive is the series’ portrayal of race in mid 20th century America. This and the impact of racism is at the very core of the story and is apparent in every aspect, from the relationships between characters, to the music and the scenery. However, the spotlight on inequality is never more apparent than the moments where the characters flee terrifying police officers, these encounters with bigots being by far the scariest in the series. And, when you consider the show also has giant, vampire slug creatures, that’s really saying something.
With this mix of social commentary and slimy monsters, Ellen E Jones in the Guardian says that Lovecraft Country is ‘the most entertaining series to grace our screens for months,’ and that it’s ‘a beautiful bounty of black creativity and black history.’ In The Telegraph Anita Singh praises the show for being ‘ambitious’ and ‘packed with period detail,’ however she does say that ‘the melding of horror and history wasn’t particularly satisfying.’
We’re not sure we agree with that one, and it seems that The New York Times doesn’t either. Mike Hale believes that the show ‘rejuvenates the horror genre by making the heroes Black and putting America’s racist history at the centre of the story,’ and we’d have to agree. He goes on to say: ‘The characters and story are engaging, and the production has a dreamy but vivid feel that hints at Lovecraft’s mesmeric quality while avoiding his florid excesses.’
Somewhere Lovecraft is turning in his racist old grave.
First shown August 2020. You can watch the trailer by pressing play on the show image, or by clicking here.