Set against the backdrop of 1950s Jim Crow America, Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) sets out on a road trip with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett) and Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) in search of his missing father, encountering terrors human and supernatural.
Lovecraft Country is bold and ambitious. Showrunner Misha Green – backed by Jordan Peele – has drawn on the racial inequality of the time, blending it with Lovecraftian horror, to produce something strikingly original and entertaining. The production is as lavish as it is imaginative, the abhorrent racial atrocities undiluted and the fantastical elements inventively realised.
But something is also amiss in Lovecraft Country.
The series plays out like a compendium of stories, all connected in some way to the central theme. This provides the writers and designers the opportunities their creative minds demand, and free from any restriction each episode pulses with energy and invention. But this creativity leaves the central tale somewhat redundant and lacking cohesion. While Majors and Smollett, and their characters, revel in the variety this brings – there being nods to everything from Indiana Jones to The Goonies – some of the supporting cast struggle to find their place in this world. While providing a focus for every character in turn is laudable it does at times lead to confusion in the narrative.
Any hope of insight from the Blu-ray extras is quickly dashed, there being only the routine interviews and featurettes. Perhaps more exploration into the Lovecraft connection would have been of interest?
There is no doubt Lovecraft Country is a thoroughly enjoyable, pulpy romp. The notion of setting what is essentially a racial drama against Lovecraftian themes – the writer infamous for his problematic views – is endlessly intriguing, and the visuals are at times awe-inspiring. There are flaws but the conviction and energy in Green’s vision shines through.