Lovecraft Country is a new prestige drama horror series that will be coming to HBO later this year. Executive produced by Jordan Peele, the series draws its inspiration from the novel by Matt Ruff and the world of renowned weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft. It follows a man on a road trip across 1950s America in search of his missing father. Along the way, he and his companions encounter both the human evils of racism in the United States, and monstrous beings straight out of one of Lovecraft’s stories.
For horror fans everywhere, this chilling adaptation is a dream—or rather, the best kind of nightmare—come true. As of May 1st, we now have the first official Lovecraft Country trailer [see below]! Forbes also reports that the series is set to release sometime in August 2020. Alas, a premiere date has yet to be announced, so there are still so many questions we have about the upcoming series. As we anticipate the show’s release, we’re sharing the scoop on what we do know so far about Lovecraft Country.
What is Lovecraft Country based on?
The new HBO series takes its title and plot from the 2016 book of the same name, written by Matt Ruff and published by HarperCollins. The book, in its turn, takes much of its inspiration from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft—juxtaposing the cosmic horror themes in Lovecraft’s own fiction with the horrors of real-life racism experienced in the United States during the era of Jim Crow, when legislated racial segregation led to frequent violence against black Americans.
Lovecraft Country isn’t Ruff’s first attempt at alternate history with hints of horror and science fiction. His previous novel, The Mirage, envisions a world in which the Middle East was on the receiving end of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and America was the antagonist. Ruff’s earlier novels include Bad Monkeys, Set This House in Order, and Fool on the Hill.
Reviews of Lovecraft Country applauded Ruff’s “impressive grasp of classic horror themes” (Publishers Weekly), as well as his approach to “harassment, violence, expropriation, and the legacy of slavery” (Boing Boing). Tor.com called the book “a tense thriller, a terrifying nightmare, a heartbreaking tragedy, and a tale of holding onto aspiration and optimism even while being chased through the woods by a hellbeast from another dimension.” What more could you ask for?
With Lovecraft’s own disparaging views on various races and ethnicities a point of continued contention in the circles of horror and fantastic fiction—the decision to retire the bust of Lovecraft as the World Fantasy Award statuette was only one of the more public kerfuffles in recent memory—the themes of Lovecraft Country have never been more relevant. And who better to help bring them to the screen than Jordan Peele, the writer and director of such topical horror films as Get Out and Us?
What is Lovecraft Country about?
Like the novel upon which it is based, Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Black, a veteran of the Korean war who “always has a pulp novel in his back pocket.” The story heats up when Atticus’s father, Montrose, disappears. Atticus teams up with his friend Letitia, an artist who has traveled across the country protesting for civil rights, and his Uncle George, author of the “Safe Negro Travel Guide,” on a road trip across the United States to find out what happened to Montrose.
Along the way, they run into a cast of other characters, including Letitia’s sister Ruby, Atticus’s Aunt Hippolyta, who is itching for adventure, and a naïve nursing student who was thrust into combat during the war. They will also run afoul of a sundown county sheriff and the only daughter of the leader of a secretive order called the “Sons of Adam,” as well as her bodyguard, a “perfect specimen” of the so-called Aryan race. Not to mention, of course, Lovecraftian horrors from beyond space and time.
Who’s behind the camera?
Misha Green, creator of the historical drama series Underground, is acting as showrunner for Lovecraft Country, and shares "created by" credit with Jordan Peele. The show is being produced by Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions, and Warner Bros. Television. Executive producers include Peele, Green, Abrams, Ben Stephenson, and others.
Who’s in Lovecraft Country?
It might be easier to say who isn’t. The show will feature plenty of familiar faces from hit films and other HBO shows, including Michael Kenneth Williams of The Wire, 12 Years a Slave, The Purge: Anarchy, and many more. Williams will play Montrose Freeman, Atticus’s missing father.
Atticus himself will be played by Jonathan Majors, of The Last Black Man in San Francisco. His Uncle George will be played by veteran actor Courtney B. Vance, who has appeared in everything from The Hunt for Red October to The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Jurnee Smollett-Bell rounds out the series’ main trio as Letitia Lewis. Smollett-Bell has previously starred in TV series such as True Blood and Underground, where she worked with series showrunner Misha Green, and she recently played Black Canary in Birds of Prey on the big screen.
Wunmi Mosaku joins the main cast as Letitia’s sister Ruby, Aunjanue Ellis will play Aunt Hippolyta, and Jamie Chung will portray Ji-Ah, a nurse who may be more than she seems.
The roles of the show’s antagonists have also been filled by experienced actors. Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road; The Neon Demon) stars as Christina Braithwhite, the daughter of the leader of the “Sons of Adam,” while Jordan Patrick Smith plays her bodyguard, William. Jamie Harris plays ex-marine-turned-county sheriff Eustace Hunt, who has an “NAACP complaint file a mile long, and a marine tattoo on the back of his neck so the enemy has something to aim at.”
Is there a trailer for Lovecraft Country?
On May 1st, 2020, the first official trailer for Lovecraft Country was released. It's clear from the clip above that we're in for one well-crafted nightmare. The scenes featured in the teaser boast rich production values and high-quality period-piece wardrobes and backdrops, transporting viewers to an alternate version of Jim Crow-era America where the real-life horrors of bigotry and racism merge with the cosmic terrors of Lovecraftian lore. The show also seems to include a strong vintage soundtrack, with a contorted version of Wilson Pickett's "Land of 1,000 Dances" playing over the teaser and adding to its creeping dread.
When is Lovecraft Country coming out?
Forbes reports that the series is set to air sometime in August 2020. Alas, no release date has yet been announced—and given the current state of the world, we may not know for some time.
In any case, this horror drama promises to be our next binge-watch obsession, one that reckons with America's brutal past as it imagines the kinds of freaky monsters that can only come out of Lovecraftian horror. Filming is already underway, and Lovecraft Country should debut on HBO later this year. We can’t wait!
This post was updated on 5/4/20
Featured still from "Lovecraft Country" via Warner Bros. Television