Journey to ‘Lovecraft Country’ on Blu-ray [Review]
[Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided Halloween Daily News with a free copy of the Blu-ray reviewed in this article. The opinions the author shares are his own.]
The complete first season of the HBO original series Lovecraft Country arrives on Blu-ray and DVD this week from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, with all 10 episodes plus loads of monstrous new bonus features.
Based on the 2016 novel by Matt Ruff, Lovecraft Country follows Korean War veteran Atticus Freeman (played by Jonathan Majors) as he joins up with his childhood friend Leti Lewis (Birds of Prey‘s Jurnee Smollett) and his Uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) on a road trip from Chicago across 1950s heavily-segregated Jim Crow America in search of his missing father, Montrose Freeman (Michael K. Williams). Their search-and-rescue turns into a struggle to survive and overcome both the racist terrors of white America and magical creatures that could easily be ripped from an H.P. Lovecraft paperback.
The series also stars Aunjanue Ellis (When They See Us), Wunmi Mosaku (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), Jamie Chung (Once Upon a Time), Jada Harris (The Resident), and Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road), as a privileged white woman attempting to break her way into the mysterious white-men-only group of secret power brokers known on the show as the Sons of Adam.
The entire cast turns in phenomenal performances, led by Majors and Smollett, who both smolder with growing intensity as the season progresses and they find themselves more and more attracted to each other, while diving deeper into the secrets of long-hidden magic and uncover Atticus’s true destiny.
There are significant standout episodes that especially showcase Ellis as Hippolyta Freeman, who figures out how to make a time machine work and travels to multiple parallel universes in one of the most epic, world-expanding episodes, as well as Mosaku as Leti’s sister Ruby, who has a torrid affair with a white man (and later woman) and even gets to walk through the world as a white woman for a while, and Harris as George and Hippolyta’s young and talented daughter Diana Freeman, who draws her own original comic books for her father to enjoy during his business trips away from home.
There are many monsters featured throughout the season, including the Lovecraft-inspired shapeshifting Shoggoths with hundreds of eyes and the Nightmare on Elm Street-inspired stalking twins Topsy and Bopsy, who chase Diana in Episode 8, but my favorite of all the creatures featured on the show so far is definitely the Kumiho, a sensual and deadly creature with nine tails from real life Korean folklore, played enchantingly by Chung.
The series is executive produced by Misha Green, J.J. Abrams, and Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us), as well as Bill Carraro, Yann Demange (who also directed the first episode), Daniel Sackheim (who also directed Episodes 2 and 3), David Knoller, and Ben Stephenson.
Among the bonus material included on the Blu-ray set, the new 12-minute featurette Orithyia Blue and the Imagination of Diana Freeman showcases Jada Harris’s Diana, and the uniqueness of Misha Green’s mission to bring people of color to the forefront of genre pieces, where they have never been before. It’s also fascinating to learn that Diana’s comic book art is directly inspired by the existing work of Jackie Ormes, who was an actual black female comic book artist in the 1950s.
The 12-minute Compendium of Horrors is a great behind the scenes dive into Green’s intention of combining paranormal horror with the horror of racism. “The monster of the show is racism,” she says, adding that she initially bonded with Jordan Peele over their love of horror, at which time he suggested the book that Lovecraft Country is based on. The author of that book, Matt Ruff also discusses the fact that Lovecraft himself was a racist, and so it makes even more sense turning his monsters and magic into tools of the ancient white supremacist group the Sons of Adam.
The 28-minute featurette Crafting Lovecraft Country really shows of Misha Green’s genius and how her massive vision of a multiverse of genre possibilities for people of color is truly revolutionary.
Additional special features on the Blu-ray include eight one-minute featurettes on each of the main cast members, and four brief featurettes highlighting the show’s comic book artist Afua Richardson, storyboard artist Erick Yamamoto, special effects makeup supervisor Carey Jones, and property master J.P. Jones, all of which are people of color.
Season 1 was great and left me wanting more, ready for new adventures (and monster encounters) with these captivating and well-written characters.
For a trip unlike anything that has come before it, Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season three-disc set is available now on Blu-ray or DVD, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
You can view the cover art and three clips from the show below.
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