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Focus on the Frightful: Lovecraft Country

The first episode of Lovecraft Country was released on YouTube by HBO yesterday (clever bastards) so Lilyn, Bill, Eliza, and I all got together to watch it. And. Oh. My. God.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A young African-American travels across the U.S. in the 1950s in search of his missing father.

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So, I’d never read Lovecraft Country but the previews and trailers for it looked fantastic. I was not disappointed. It had such an awesome dynamic to it. The Freeman family feels so great. I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched a show or movie where the family felt like an actual family. Their chemistry and interactions felt so genuine. I loved Atticus as the main character (and Lilyn can attest to him being very nice to watch, especially in that white shirt. Excuse me while I go fan myself.)

Ahem. Anyways. It was awesome to see Courtney B. Vance, as well. I loved him in Law & Order: Criminal Intent and he’s such a good actor. And Junee Smollet as Letitia fuckin’ Lewis is amazing. She is gorgeous but amply proves she’s not just a pretty face with her acting chops. Which makes me wonder why they don’t give out casting credits. Good casting can make an otherwise dull movie great and bad casting can make an otherwise good movie fail. But when it’s stellar casting along with a stellar story? It’s fantastic. And Lovecraft Country definitely falls into that category.

The story so far is great. The lighthearted scenes made me smile but the tension? Holy sweet Cthulhu was it palpable. Take the diner scene. I’m not going to tell you what happens but it had me on the edge of my seat and squirming right along with the characters. The later scenes were just as great but that is one that really stood out. It felt so very, scarily real.

And that is the main thought I had. Every interaction, dialogue, and scene felt so damn real. Which was enhanced by the choice to use actual, historical speeches during certain scenes. I can’t say enough about this show. It is just that good. The only thing that had me give it a little side-eye was some of the blood effects. They were very obviously CGI. Practical blood for the win every time. But in a show that starts out with an amazing, literally out-of-this-world sci-fi/horror opening scene it’s such a minor thing it’s hardly worth mentioning. Especially when the other effects were so great.

I will turn the review over to Lilyn and Eliza and meet you at the end!

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Holy shitballs, the premiere epsiode of Lovecraft Country was fucking amazing. Yes, I’ve read the book, but it’s been so long I basically don’t remember it, so it was like going into this blind. And jeeeeesus mary and shoggoth, it was friggin’ good! Let me state for the record that I absolutely love the Freeman family. They feel so REAL. You can tell from this first episode it’s an amazing cast, with a wonderful writer and director at the helm.

And, I gotta give in to my hormones for a second: Jurnee Smollett in that white shirt and shorts did things to a girl, y’all. DID things! And then Jonathan Majors in that white shirt? Yes, please, and thank you I will lust over both quite happily, bless my bisexual heart.

Lovecraft Country hit it out of the park on every single piece of this. From the acting to the script to the characters to the hold-on-to-your-balls car chase that me clutching my chest. 10/10 HIGHLY FUCKING RECOMMEND!


Lovecraft Country quickly introduces Tic, Leti, and Uncle George while establishing the setting and the dynamics of the time. One thing about the families presented is that they feel oh so real. The conflicts, tension, history — it’s all there and doesn’t feel contrived at all. When the trio sets out to find Tic’s missing father, the racial tensions put their lives in danger. This episode expertly builds the tension and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen, and then throws a curveball at you that you don’t even see coming. Welcome to Lovecraft Country, where the monsters come out to play. Tic, Leti, and Uncle George are fighting for their lives against racists and unnamed creatures, and it’s a bloodbath. The writers do a great job of alluding to potential developments subtly as the story develops, so nothing feels random, but it also doesn’t feel predictable. It definitely had me on the edge of my seat, and I am very excited to see what happens next!

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I have been a longtime reader of Lovecraft. I started when I was about thirteen – before I knew what views he held. I’m not going to defend them as him ‘being a product of his time’. That’s bullshit. He was a virulent racist even ‘for his time’. I did love that they brought up a particular essay he wrote that you won’t find in many collections. It doesn’t try to hide it. This is certainly a case of being able to respect what he created but also being able to distance the creator from their creation. That’s a more nuanced conversation than I have time for here.

And, truthfully, so many authors have played in the Lovecraftian sandbox and created works far surpassing the originals. Lovecraft Country is one of those but it’s also very entwined with the history of the Cthulhu Mythos itself. If the show can portray this so well then I can’t wait to read the book. Let me know down below (no spoilers!) if you think the book and show are close and what you think about them.

Published inFocus on the Frightful


  1. Your review makes me want yo check this out!

  2. I wanna watch it so bad but I don’t have HBO 😭😭 Everyone says it’s great and from the preview I know it’s my kinda show.

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