By Michele St. Martin
Let me start by saying that I’m going to try to keep this review short, to the point, and spoiler-free, which is difficult for me because I just LOVE spoilers. I realize, however, not everyone does, especially when it comes to something so anticipated as this series. So, that being said, let’s just dive right into it.
All in all, I really enjoyed this pilot. Lovecraft Country is a book by “cult” novelist Matt Ruff (Bad Monkeys, Set This House in Order, Fool on the Hill), which starts in 1954 Chicago. It follows 22-year old Atticus Black who returns to his hometown from the Army after being notified that his father Montrose has gone missing under mysterious circumstances. Black soon embarks on a trip to New England with his Uncle George (publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide – a definite shoutout to The Green Book), and his childhood friend Letitia. On their way to the mansion of an enigmatic character by the name of Mr. Brathwaite, they encounter unsettling horrors and spirits that seem to come right out of the H.P. Lovecraft books Atticus devours with relish.
I was pretty much riveted from the start. The opening sequence alone was mind-blowing and will be a welcome treat for those viewers who love publications like Weird Tales and 50s B-movies. Lovecraft Country wastes no time in getting into the story. Actor Jonathan Majors embraces Atticus a “Blerd” from the get-go (Black + nerd, which has been neglected in the media). Atticus is a bibliophile of color who is addicted to tales of weird fiction and fantasy by authors like Lovecraft and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
These eccentricities are also ingrained in the rest of his family. His Aunt Hippolyta is a star-gazer/amateur astronomer. The young niece is an aspiring comic book artist. I found this refreshing to see–a loving black family who encourage each other in their talents and hobbies, with a penchant for the weird and fantastic. Even Leti, the protagonist’s childhood friend was a member of their science fiction book club. I think they were the only members (laughs).
I was impressed with the pilot. I shouldn’t be surprised, really. With producers such as Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams at the helm, I couldn’t expect anything less. The writing and pacing were spot-on. Writer Misha Green “killed it” in terms of character development and brought to life a slice of America we don’t (or should I say, don’t want to) see. I was thoroughly invested in the family–their personal familial issues, as well as a look into their daily life. When things started to get weird (and believe me, that may be an understatement), I wanted to know what happened next without scratching my head going, “HUH?” I just wanted it to go on. I can’t wait to watch the rest of the series, even with all the eyes (you’ll know what I mean when you watch).
This series couldn’t have debuted at a better time.
Now, excuse me while I go curl up with a good book…
Developed / Written by Misha Green
Producers: Jordan Peele, J.J. Abrams, Yann Demange (pilot), David Knoller (pilot)
Cast: Jonathan Majors (Atticus Black), Jurnee Smollett – Bell (Letitia “Leti” Dandridge), Aunjanue Ellis (Hippolyta Black), Abbey Lee (Christina Brathwaite), Wunmi Mosaku (Ruby Dandridge), Courtney B. Vance (George Black)
Rating: 5 of 5