Blu-Ray Review: ‘Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season’
by Rachel Bellwoar
[+++ Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-Ray I reviewed in this article. The opinions I share are my own. +++]
Every story has a beginning. On Lovecraft Country, Tic (Jonathan Majors) comes home to Chicago to look for his father (Michael K. Williams), who’s missing. Montrose wasn’t one to write letters (he was abusive towards Tic growing up), so the fact that he wrote Tic right before disappearing is awfully conspicuous, but then there’s the fact that he wrote to tell him that he had learned something about Tic’s late mother’s family and some legacy Tic is due, because of his bloodline.
Batman had the Batmobile. Scooby Doo had the Mystery Machine, and Lovecraft Country has a 1948 Packard Station Sedan named Woody that belongs to Tic’s Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) (the show takes place in the 50’s). Since Leti (Jurnee Smollett) needs a ride she becomes their third passenger, though she’s supposed to get dropped off at some point. Tic hasn’t seen Leti in years — she was the only girl in their Science Fiction Club growing up — yet you never get much sense of the history between them. No time for reminiscing when you’re being chased by a car full of racists. They make-up for lost time, though, as a “simple” trip to figure out where Montrose went ends up bringing with it the revelation that magic is real, and the Sons of Adam know how to use it.
The Sons of Adam are a cult of white supremacists that take special interest in Tic, and while there is an ongoing storyline involving them, and their desire to get their hands on the ‘Book of Names’ and cast an immortality spell, a lot of the mythology in Lovecraft Country comes out quick and all at once, making it hard to keep up sometimes. On an episodic level, however, the series works extremely well and it’s these storylines that often leave the deepest impression.
Episode three is the series’ haunted house episode, for example, and while that’s been done before, it’s the episode when you realize every episode of Lovecraft Country can be its own thing – a different genre. Episode eight delves into sci-fi with George’s wife, Hippolyta (Aunjanue Ellis), and it’s sensational – the kind of hour that should generate a spinoff. The series also incorporates real life historical events and in one instance, even finds a way to get around the anticipation that usually comes with dealing with the past.
Visually, the series couldn’t look any better. So much is asked of the VFX department, from body horror to the series’ signature monster, the shoggoths (which work so well because their behavior resembles vampires, but their appearance doesn’t). The lighting and colors often feel reminiscent of 1953’s War of the Worlds and baseball bats haven’t been this iconic since Beyonce’s music video for “Hold Up.”
While bonus features can be slight on physical releases of TV shows these days, Lovecraft Country bucks tradition by including at least an hour’s worth of featurettes, including one on comic book artist, Afua Richardson, who does the art for one of the characters on the show who draws comics. ‘Crafting Lovecraft Country‘ looks at what went into adapting Mark Ruff‘s book for TV and includes interviews with showrunner, Misha Green, as well as a lot of interesting information on how the series integrated history into the show (including recreating photos by Gordon Parks and other photographers). ‘Lovecraft Country: Compendium of Horror’ is the one to watch to learn more about the VFX work that went into creating the shoggoths, while the ‘Exploring Lovecraft Country’ and ‘Lovecraft Country: The Craft’ clips are too short to provide much insight.
The show occasionally handles its LGBTQ+ storylines poorly, and the mixing of period music with modern music can be distracting, but when Lovecraft Country hits a nerve or fills a hole, there’s no denying how ambitious it can be.
Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season is available from today on Blu-Ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.