Lovecraft Country (HBO, Sundays at 9 p.m.) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, January 26th, 2023  

Lovecraft Country

HBO, Sundays at 9 p.m.

Aug 17, 2020 Web Exclusive
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Nothing is ever as it seems in Lovecraft Country, a new HBO anthology miniseries executive produced by Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams. The show, an adaptation of Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel of the same name, aims to juxtapose the work of famed horror author H.P. Lovecraft with the racial disparities in America during the Jim Crow Era.

The journey begins when Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors), a Korean War veteran, receives an unexpected letter from his missing father, a man he hasn’t talked to in years. He teams up to investigate with his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and childhood friend Letitia Lewis (Jurnee Smollett). The three travel to a mysterious Massachusetts county, which they call “Lovecraft Country,” where monsters—both human and unknown—roam uninterrupted. From there, each episode explores different horrors from both Lovecraft’s pages and racism in the United States.

From the premiere episode, Lovecraft Country makes it clear there are two villains the protagonists have to face. The CGI monsters that have just the right amount of dramatic “pop-out” scares to frighten viewers, but the real horror is watching the main characters be forced to battle against racism in America in the 1950s. The unnerving feeling is that this battle hasn’t come to an end—even at the present time. When this is explored to the maximum extent, which it does by Episode 5, Lovecraft haunts the viewer’s mind in an impactful way long after the credits have run. The main critique is that these ideas aren’t always at the forefront of the series.

While each episode is technically dedicated to exploring a different aspect of both the novel and the show’s theme, there is an unengaging central narrative that runs through the series. This assists in honing the fantasy element of Lovecraft Country, but isn’t interesting enough on its own and feels forced. Each episode is strong enough on its own. Trying to connect them with this shoe-horned in central narrative is a waste of time.

In contrast, each episode contains bold action set pieces that are hard to look away from—even when the narrative is unfocused and questionable. While at times the effects are laughable and the sequences corny, the strong cast sells what is happening well enough to look past these occasional downfalls. Smollett and Majors, in particular, shine in every scene. Their powerful stage presence and innate chemistry convincingly brings their characters and relationship to life.

Using horror and chaos to tell a story that is not simply based off of H.P. Lovecraft’s ideas is a unique and accessible way to get ideas across to the audience. It is only when the anthology tries to feed into a central plot that its impact disappears and Lovecraft Country becomes tiresome. (

Author rating: 6.5/10

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