Black people leading cosmic horror is not only unusual, it’s almost unheard of until now. HBO’s new series Lovecraft Country has been weaving the horror of HP Lovecraft with the racism of the Jim Crow era, sending chills through eager viewers for only a few episodes—four as of this weekend—at a fast clip. It’s easy to see why, when the characters are easy to fall in love with and care about, and the story is not only compelling enough to keep you coming back, it’s a story you just don’t see very often. Lovecraft Country is about a young Black man, Tic, and his friend Leti, on a trip to find Tic’s father, only to find themselves caught in a web of magic and monsters. Misha Green (Underground) and Jordan Peele (Get Out, The Twilight Zone) have created a world that unflinchingly looks at the violent racism of sundown towns—and has a tentacle monster.
Ready to talk all about it on Saturday evening, for the diversity track, were Hilton George (CEO, Blerdcon), Jazz and Kat co-hosts of the Girl, That’s Scary podcast, and Zoe (aka 0 Gravity, a horror content creator), fighting a thunderstorm (how fitting!) to keep talking. “This is episode eight exposition in episode two,” George laughed, pointing out the depth of the storytelling. The ride you step into every week is more than you’re expecting, but it’s worth every second.
There is so much to take in, in every episode of this show, and all the panelists recommend watching them multiple times to catch all the nuance. It’s a smart show, and it expects that you’re smart too, but there is so much happening, and so many moving parts, that multiple viewings help to ensure you don’t miss any of the plot twists, the incredible acting from a strong cast, or the impeccable costume designs. Every movement is thought through and timed to hit just the right second, which is part of how they can cram so much story into such a small time without making it seem overly rushed.
George offered that getting to see not only your stories, but your stories in quality content, being told, and being told by people like you, is a place to take a breath, to relax a little, and to hope that these stories will continue to be told. That Lovecraft Country is being written not only by Black people, but by Black women in particular, is fantastic, because it allows for understanding of the characters that make them more dynamic and real. He hates just how much he cares about all the characters, because it’s horror; not everyone is going to make it out. Especially the ones who insist on breaking the core horror movie rules.
Zoe noted that having women in charge avoids some of the more problematic parts of being any woman in a horror setting. Running away from the monster, only to fall and twist an ankle, for instance. Leti (Jurnee Smollett, Birds of Prey) is written in a such way to show how you’re supposed to survive. Assertive, aware, running her butt away from the monsters, none of that typical focus about how hot she is, how big her boobs are; it’s someone fleeing for their lives, and it’s truth in a way that’s not typical for the horror genre. These are not the tropes you’re looking for, they’re better.