When Lovecraft Country Outdoes Its Competition…

Lovecraft Country Poster

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

HBO’s Lovecraft Country beats Netflix’s Stranger Things hands down! Even though the latter program has one more confirmed season, these young actors are growing up fast and are already pursuing other projects. The former shows us a grande design, covering more than just an area, and the latter keeps it all isolated within Hawkins, Indiana. Despite a report from Netflixlife.com saying the Duffer Brothers had time to think of where the series can go next, what they have planned won’t be the same.

Just look at Supernatural. Showrunner Eric Kripke originally planned for five seasons and was marked to have a definitive ending. The CW wanted more and put forth the money to force a rewrite of the ending so it could continue. Afterwards, this series creator was no longer helming the series and it went in ways that left some fans feeling divided. Until we see where The Duffer Brothers take the lads, my hope is that they leave town, attend college elsewhere and encounter new threats!

In the meantime, Lovecraft Country gets to explore the mythos in alternative ways. The series is loosely based from the novels, and I’m not expecting the material from the printed tales to be revisited. Most fans of his works know of misogynistic and xenophobic this author was. It’s there in his works. The racial tension is sometimes a highlight, hidden away as metaphors in those stories. Perhaps a few of those monsters are representations of his greater fears. Until a seance is held and mediums can summon his spirit to give us answers, we’ll never know. He was a product of the times, and this program vividly shows us that without being too preachy.

The first few minutes are terrific! Korean War vet Atticus “Tic” Black (Jonathan Majors) is almost home. He survived one terrible reality and is subject to another right away–racial segregation. He loves the pulps and his dream is a mix of John Carter meets Lovecraft. The budget set aside for this intro shows that Mountains of Madness can be made, but that’s besides the point.

Tic is searching for his father, Montrose (Michael K. Williams). He was last seen in Lovecraft Country, and yes, Virginia, this author’s works is very much a part of the story. Supposedly, the terrors he put into fiction were inspired by his random encounters when he journeyed through this area.

Lovecraft Country Team

This former soldier meets up with family first–Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) and childhood friend and Letitia (Jurnee Smollett)–before embarking on an adventure which shows the monsters in his favourite tales may well be for real! That’s when reality blurs. The dreams he had may well be portents of what’s to come. Vampires, ghouls, and werewolves are the least of his problems!

Because much of rural America is set in their ways, and this reality doesn’t have equal rights for Black people yet, Tic and his crew see how much of America treats people of his skin colour. They most likely don’t know enough of the Korean War and how he fought for their side. Thus they don’t know any better way to give him equality.

Though we have only one episode to see how this series sets up the world, I’m already knee deep in feeling for this protagonist. He represents other nationalities too which have felt White America’s pinch. There’s two layers of horror that make this series a standout–the reality of the times and the nightmares he faces. When they merge, that’s when the fun begins, and the little glimpses to those creations of Lovecraft are perfectly brief.

As for where the series will go next, we just have to tune in to HBO Max, as they are releasing episodes one per week rather than giving us viewers the whole shebang. I don’t think our sanity can handle it.

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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