‘Lovecraft Country’ Review: HBO Tackles Racism with Confounding Jim Crow-Era, Genre-Bending Drama

With its atmospheric mix of paranormal and social menaces, “Lovecraft Country” uses horror to comment on American race relations. It rejuvenates the genre by not just making its heroes Black, but by setting the story in the racially segregated Jim Crow era of the 1950s, putting America’s racist history at the center of the narrative. Within that setting, the series continuously shapeshifts in episodic fashion, starting with a road trip, then a haunted-house story, an Indiana Jones-esque hunt for treasure buried beneath a museum, and more, each equally manic and, at times nearing absurdity. It’s a series perfectly suited for the madness that has been the year 2020.
The opening scene of “Lovecraft Country” is an actual nightmare, as series protagonist Atticus “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors), is haunted by ghosts from his past as a soldier in the Korean war trenches. It’s a fantasy sequence filled with flying saucers, octopuses with dragon-like wings, reddish alien life forms beaming down from spacecrafts, and Jackie Robinson at bat, except he’s swinging at indescribable monsters that ooze green slime. It’s a chaotic jumble that, on its surface makes very little sense, but such is the nature of dreams.

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