The latest HBO original series, Lovecraft Country (based on a novel of the same title written by Matt Ruff), debuted this week with the episode Sundown. The series is created by Misha Green, a talented writer who has contributed to series such as Sons of Anarchy and Heroes as well as being credited with creating Underground. J.J. Abrams, Ben Stephenson, and Jordan Peele are executive producers of Lovecraft Country, and while the look and feel of the show fit into the catalog of work from J.J. Abrams, and without wanting to undermine Misha Green's accomplishments, it's fair to say that the show is the most on-brand for Jordan Peele. The blend of social commentary, quality construction, and campy horror make it impossible to discuss without drawing comparisons to Get Out, Us, and Twilight Zone in the best possible way.
Sundown begins by introducing us to Atticus Freeman, a young black man who has left the army to return home after recieving an unusual letter from his father who has gone missing. After sharing the letter with his uncle George Freeman, Atticus, his friend Letitia, and his uncle George follow the letter to the small town of Ardham in Massachusetts, otherwise known as Lovecraft Country. Along the way the trio encounter deep economic disparity as well as violent racism punctuated by strange events before eventually facing off with impossible monsters.
The characters are beautifully written and portrayed by exceptionally talented actors. Jonathan Majors is the standout as Atticus Freeman. He delivers a subtle warmth wrapped up in a character of rich intelligence and imagination. Along side him, Courtney B. Vance absolutely delivers the character of uncle George. Jamie Harris is terrifying as Sheriff Eunice Hunt. He is both threatening and hateful in a way that churns the stomach.
Viewer beware, though, I found the social commentary to be a bit ham-fisted and on-the-nose. I am absolutely in the choir on social disparity and I still felt a bit beat over the head by the deliberate and aggressive visual messages and character interactions. At one point the characters drive past a literal line of poverty underlining a bilboard that is bragging about the American way of life. I am sold on the message, but I really wish it were more creative in the delivery. Maybe these days it just feels like you have to beat down every door with the idea or it will get lost, but I found it distractingly obvious.
The pacing also struggles a bit to find its footing due mostly in part to the introduction of elements that don't even begin to get explained in the first episode. Some of the plot developments scream too much that they're important while giving you too little. The effect is a little jarring but will hopefully smooth out as the series progresses.
Ultimately, though, I'm excited to see where the series goes. Its over-the-top sci-fi horror elements are refreshingly unique and you just can't quite get very much of anything that has this vibe. Twilight Zone come close, but it just isn't quite the same thing. I'm excited to see where the series goes next, and can't help but to recommend getting on board for the ride.
|Final Verdict:||A must watch series from Misha Green for fans of Jordan Peele's horror work.|