Courtney B. Vance, Jonathan Majors, Jurnee Smollett in Lovecraft Country on HBO. Photograph by Eli Joshua Ade/HBO.
HBOs Lovecraft Country is a true horror TV masterpiece in so many ways.
Its not every day you ask yourself, Whats scarier: Monsters or racists? And as abstract, unreal or even ridiculous as that might seem, HBOsLovecraft Countryputs that question right in your face. If you had one demon to battle in America, would the Lovecraftian monsters or blatant, no-shame-about-it racists be the biggest foe?
That question may all depend on your race in America, whichLovecraft Countrybrings to the table in this 10-episode series from showrunner Misha Green. With Jordan Peeles stamp of approval as an executive producer, the themes of race and horror run together like in his other projectsGet Outand the upcomingCandyman. And as you watch these projects, you realize that the protagonists of these dont really have a choice. Theyll have to take the monsters and the racists.
HowLovecraft Countrytackles these themes is an interesting case. The show, also produced by J.J. Abram and his Bad Robot Productions company, is based on the novelLovecraft Countryby Matt Ruff. And for those who have read it, the series comes pretty close being a faithful adaptation of the book, plus or minus a few tweaks here and there. The story takes place in America during the Jim Crow era where protagonist Atticus Freeman(Jonathan Majors) embarks on a road-tripping journey to find his father, whos told him he discovered some piece of his mothers mysterious heritage. Hes joined by his Uncle George(Courtney B. Vance) and friendLetitia (Jurnee Smollett), as they uncover what mysteries lie within his heritage.
The first five episodes, as previewed for this review, are nothing short of thrilling, exciting and emotional all at once. And for horror television fans, this one is a must-watch. On one side, the characters and their relationships with one another hold together like the real glue of the series, grounding it into something relatable.Atticus, for example, has to deal with his broken relationship with his father, Montrose (Michael Kenneth Williams), and even Letitia also works on mending a broken relationship with her sister after their mother passes.
The second layer of this emotional ride comes when the group (or pretty much any Black character in the show), faces white people and the horrors of racism are put in full view in this series. The list goes on and on of the atrocities some of the characters face, from police brutality and dirty cops to unkind, harassing neighbors. And though the series takes place during the late 50s, oftentimes, it feels more like the show is holding up a mirror to modern-day American society. Knowing just that is a horror story on its own, realizing that while progress was made during the Civil Rights Era, this country still has a long way to go when it comes to racism.
Sexism, too, becomes a huge theme in this series. One white character, for example, is gender-swapped from its novel counterpart. But its a good way to show just how othered groups feel if youre not a white man in America. The new character,Christina (Abbey Lee), is white, though as a woman, shes not allowed to take part in a secret society that her father is a member of. This plays a larger role in the plot as the story goes on, and we see how this develops as she and Atticus and co. go up against the status quo. (Though she, being the bad guy, has different motives than Atticus.) Thats all to say, the series doesnt say women have the exact same plight as Black people in America, but the issue still branches off from the same tree.
That brings us to the final layer of the series, which is the cherry on top: the horror. The level of horror varies with each episode as it moves through different genres and tropes, but that doesnt make it any less exciting. Right from the get-go, Atticus, Letitia and George run into the weirdest-looking monsters just in the first episode. And from there, the series has its share of the supernatural. Some episodes feel a bit more like the seriesSupernatural, where you have a group of people solving a mystery thats tied to magic and monsters and those episodes are a lot more accessible for people who like light supernatural fair and not necessarily scary movie horror. In episode 3 (for those who need fair warning), the show does become more like a horror movie, so be prepared for lots of eerie music, jump scares and frightening sights.
But, these themes wouldnt be pulled off effectively if it werent for the cast.Jonathan Majors shines in the lead role as Atticus, playing the strong, emotional and brave character extremely well.Jurnee Smollett feels like she gets just as much screen time asMajors, and she plays Letitia as the fiery-yet-vulnerable character who wont back down from a challenge.Courtney B. Vance, of course, is a masterful actor in whatever role he plays,Lovecraft Countrybeing no exception. AndMichael Kenneth Williams rounds out the cast as a later addition to the group, bringing another strong performance to the table.
All in all, the series certainly feels like its yet another HBO hit. The quality is top-notch, from graphics to the set design, period costumes, and even the soundtrack and score. And with its ability to be a drama and horror show with a dash of comic relief and sci-fi all in one, theres truly something for everybody in this thrilling show.
Lovecraft Countrybegins airing on HBO Sunday, Aug. 16 at 9 p.m. ET.
- 35 Best Scary Movies on Netflix in 2020 - Glamour - September 26th, 2020
- Ghostbusters & The 9 Best Halloween Movies For The Family, According To IMDb - Screen Rant - September 26th, 2020
- Halloween Drive-In Movies Coming To Morrisville Farm - Patch.com - September 26th, 2020
- It's the holiday season and boy am I ready for it - Daily Leader - Dailyleader - September 26th, 2020
- City of La Crosse advises against traditional trick-or-treating this Halloween - La Crosse Tribune - September 26th, 2020
- Movies on TV this week: 'Psycho'; 'Lawrence of Arabia' and more - Los Angeles Times - September 26th, 2020
- Everything Coming to Streaming in October - Nerdist - September 26th, 2020
- Charlie Sheen In 2020: 10 Things The Actor Has Done Since Leaving Two And A Half Men - TheThings - September 26th, 2020
- 10 family-friendly hotel breaks in Ireland this autumn - Irish Examiner - September 26th, 2020
- The biggest movies that have been delayed, and when you can expect to see them now - Armenian Reporter - September 26th, 2020
- Whats New on Netflix CanadaPlus, Whats Leavingin October - FLARE - September 25th, 2020
- 16 Haunted House Movies To Watch Before Netflix's Haunting Of Bly Manor - GameSpot - September 25th, 2020
- Scary Games to Play on Xbox Game Pass - Comic Years - September 25th, 2020
- How They Made It: The Terrifying Basement Scene in Zodiac - The Ringer - September 25th, 2020
- Should Bay Area parents send their kids trick-or-treating this year? Here's what we know - SFGate - September 25th, 2020
- New study claims fans of horror films are coping better with the pandemic - Far Out Magazine - September 25th, 2020
- The Devil All The Time: 10 Small Town Horror Films To Watch If You Liked It - Screen Rant - September 25th, 2020
- Review of the new Netflix version of "The Boys in the Band" - Los Angeles Times - September 25th, 2020
- Whats the scary music in Netflixs Ratched, and where do I know it from? - Classic FM - September 25th, 2020
- Here's what's coming to Netflix Canada in October 2020 - insauga.com - September 25th, 2020
- Drive-in film festival features horror shorts, horror classic and the grim reality of time the Hi-lo - Long Beach Post - September 25th, 2020
- Less psychological distress: Horror movie fans are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic better, and... - Hindustan Times - September 23rd, 2020
- 7 scary movies to get in the Halloween spirit - bgfalconmedia.com - September 23rd, 2020
- OPINION: Halloween's best movies The Daily Evergreen - The Daily Evergreen - September 23rd, 2020
- The Best Horror Movies on HBO and HBO Max - Thrillist - September 23rd, 2020
- Enjoy ghoulish films and fun this fall at Monster Movies at the Mill - WHNT News 19 - September 23rd, 2020
- Horror Fans Are Supposedly Better at Coping with the Coronavirus Pandemic - Exclaim! - September 23rd, 2020
- Horror movies people thought were real | Convincing true story scary films - Alternative Press - September 23rd, 2020
- 10 Best Horror TV Shows To Get You In The Halloween Spirit (Ranked By IMDb) - Screen Rant - September 23rd, 2020
- With trick-or-treating in doubt, experts say Halloween sales could be weak - ThePeterboroughExaminer.com - September 23rd, 2020
- PEN15 harnesses the power of witchcraft in the face of adolescent anxiety - SYFY WIRE - September 23rd, 2020
- REVENGE MONSTERS! Pumpkinhead, Harold - Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Studies) - JoBlo.com - September 23rd, 2020
- Whats Coming to Netflix in October 2020 - What's on Netflix - September 23rd, 2020
- What will Halloween look like in Portland in 2020? - KGW.com - September 22nd, 2020
- Traditions and music to get into the fall spirit - The Signal - The Signal - September 22nd, 2020
- Improv Halloween show goes online this year - Daily Local News - September 22nd, 2020
- 10 Movies To Watch If You Like The Ritual | ScreenRant - Screen Rant - September 22nd, 2020
- Applebees Has 2 New Boozy Halloween Drinks For $5 Including One Topped With A Gummy Brain - Delish - September 22nd, 2020
- Why Cape Fear Is Martin Scorsese's Best Horror Movie (& Why It's Actually Shutter Island) - Screen Rant - September 22nd, 2020
- Emma Fielding Mysteries filming location: Know where this mystery thriller was filmed - Republic World - Republic World - September 22nd, 2020
- Applebees Is Serving HUGE Halloween Cocktails For $5 Including One That's Part Margarita And Part Daiquiri - Yahoo Lifestyle - September 22nd, 2020
- 13 overlooked horror films to check out before Halloween - Chicago Daily Herald - September 21st, 2020
- Next Best Thing: Outdoor Smorgasbord - KMUW - September 21st, 2020
- Nightmares Vs. Night Terrors: What's The Difference? - L.A. Weekly - September 21st, 2020
- First 4 Welcome to the Blumhouse trailers are anything but inviting - SYFY WIRE - September 20th, 2020
- Wondering Why You Recognize That Scary Music in Ratched? It's Pulled From a Classic Thriller - POPSUGAR - September 20th, 2020
- Health experts: Stay safe, be creative and dont cancel trick or treat - Massillon Independent - September 20th, 2020
- ScareCity A Horror Drive-In Cinema In Manchester Is Coming This October - Secret Manchester - September 20th, 2020
- Nightmares Vs. Night Terrors: Whats The Difference? - The Fresh Toast - September 20th, 2020
- SeaWorld's Flicks and Frights offers drive-in scary and "not so scary" weekends through October 31 - positivelyosceola.com - September 20th, 2020
- Bobby Stewart Is the Man Who Really Made Mike Tysons Career Possible - Sportscasting - September 20th, 2020
- Get spooky with it: The best quick Halloween costume ideas for 2020 - Film Daily - September 20th, 2020
- Utah man, 60, repeatedly raped 11-year-old girl at sleepovers and sent her obscene Snapchat messages - MEAWW - September 20th, 2020
- Five movies and series you should watch if you enjoyed Netflixs Cargo - The Indian Express - September 20th, 2020
- HomeFront: Scary movies and TV, the Emmy Awards, cooking classes - The Boston Globe - September 18th, 2020
- Movies on TV this week: 'Kramer vs. Kramer' on TCM and more - Los Angeles Times - September 18th, 2020
- From Lady Gaga to granny scarves: this week's fashion trends - The Guardian - September 18th, 2020
- Some great horror movies are coming to Netflix next month - FM104 - September 18th, 2020
- 18 Scary Movies That Will Teach Children To Appreciate A Good Scare - News Lagoon - September 18th, 2020
- Opinion | The horror! The horror! Spooky flicks on VHS can't be beat - Waterloo Chronicle - September 18th, 2020
- Movie Reviews: I'm Thinking of Ending Things and Unpregnant - Purcell Register - September 18th, 2020
- Kiersey Clemons Says These Pants Are the Only Ones She'll Ever Wear - Glamour - September 18th, 2020
- Spooky Season: Killer Klowns from Outer Space - The Phoenix - Swarthmore College The Phoenix Online - September 18th, 2020
- 'I want to make love to you so bad': 60-year-old man accused of repeatedly raping 11-year-old girl, sending vile Snapchat messages - CrimeOnline - September 18th, 2020
- Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark: 10 Things You Didn't Know About The Big Toe - Screen Rant - September 18th, 2020
- The best slasher movies on Netflix right now - Looper - September 18th, 2020
- Ashley Tisdale Is Pregnant: Check In on More Stars of High School Musical - E! NEWS - September 18th, 2020
- Scary Movies Filmed Here In Michigan - K1025 - September 16th, 2020
- The Scariest Movie From Each Year In The 2000s, Ranked - Screen Rant - September 16th, 2020
- Scream 5: Everything We Know About The Upcoming Horror Sequel - GameSpot - September 16th, 2020
- Meet Bill & Teds daughters: what you need to know about Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine - NME - September 16th, 2020
- Halloween Drive-in Movies Returns To Leopardstown This October - 98FM - September 16th, 2020
- Steven Spielberg Demanded the 'Jurassic World' Cartoon Not Be 'The Kiddy Version' - AM 950 KOEL - September 16th, 2020
- Here's Why The Insidious Horror Movie Deserves More Credit - Small Screen - September 16th, 2020
- Lush Just Dropped Its Halloween Collection & Youll Want To Draw A Bath ASAP - Yahoo Lifestyle - September 16th, 2020
- Fifteen seconds of fame: Meet some of Rice's viral TikTokers - The Rice Thresher - September 16th, 2020
- The Group Chat Needs These Bachelor NationInspired Halloween Costumes - Yahoo Lifestyle - September 16th, 2020
- A spooky drive-in cinema showing scary movies is coming to Sheffield this Halloween - Doncaster Free Press - September 14th, 2020
- It's a screen! Drive-in movie team joins up with Scream Factory for Halloween horror show - Teesside Live - September 14th, 2020
- Rent-A-Pal wants to be your creepy new best friend - The Durango Herald - September 14th, 2020
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero