Lovecraft Country: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

In the midst of everything going on in 2020, HBO dropped Lovecraft Country during the summer, and it was a wild trip of a series. Not being aware of Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel at the time, the idea of seeing a story inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft and flipping them on their head by placing black protagonists at the center of all the action was wild. On top of that, producers Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams working with fellow producer and showrunner Misha Green, meant HBO was ready to a series that could have what was needed to deliver on this ambitious series visually and without the restraint. Now the complete first season is available on Blu-ray, and it continues to look and sound great and features several extras to help round out this package.


Set in the 1950s, the story begins with Korean War veteran Attitucs “Tic” Freeman (Jonathan Majors) joining up with his old friend Letitia “Leti” Lewis (Jurnee Smollett) and his uncle George (Courtney B. Vance) to embark on a journey across Jim Crow America in search of Tic’s missing father, Montrose (Michael K. Williams). This road trip leads to struggles to survive both the racist terrors of white America during that time and the terrifying monsters Tic has read about in his Lovecraft novels.

This is merely the launching point, as the series quickly expands its world to reveal there’s much more going on that establishes Tic, his family, and others close to him as a key to some wild mysteries that will involve horror, science fiction, and more, as the characters begin exploring extraordinary situations that will literally bend space and time, while still tackling the plight of being black in America.

This Blu-ray set includes all 10 episodes of the second season.

  1. Sundown
  2. Whitey’s on the Moon
  3. Holy Ghost
  4. A History of Violence
  5. Strange Case
  6. Meet Me in Daegu
  7. I Am.
  8. Jig-a-Bobo
  9. Rewind 1921
  10. Full Circle

For a premium network that can tackle whatever it wants, it’s not going unnoticed that HBO is doing a lot as a commitment to shedding light on racial-based atrocities committed in America and delving into black culture (let alone matters concerning people of other backgrounds, cultures, gender, and identity). Lovecraft Country takes a hardcore look at the treatment of blacks in America at a time when it was overtly awful in a more acceptable way in the eyes of many (making it easily relevant to today). In the previous year, the award-winning Watchmen series similarly tackled race (both even have sequences dedicated to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which has definitely enlightened many people about a topic not covered in many textbooks). With that in mind, it’s the embrace of pulpy material and grotesque monsters that push Lovecraft Country in a different direction.

From a story standpoint, while little gets in the way of moving this story forward in terms of throwing a lot of questions at the characters and the audience, only for the show to answer them fairly quickly, one can tell it’s not quite as tightly crafted as it could be. Part of that comes out of trying to balance family drama, racial tension, and the world of Lovecraft.

The first episode, “Sundown,” is one of the best pilots out there in terms of finding the right way to combine all of these things. The second episode, “Whitey’s on the Moon,” feels drastically different as far as how it crams what feels like a season’s worth of plot into an hour. Fortunately, the show is never less than good, and for whatever gripes come throughout the series, it is matched with a collection of great performances, some twisted depictions of horror, and left-field turns to either ratchet up the tension or continue to throw the viewer down a rabbit hole.

Looking at the performances, Majors, coming off The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Da 5 Bloods, continues to show what a compelling performer he is, taking on a lead role and helping to guide the series. Smollett’s Letti Lewis is equally as compelling given the sort of authority the show gives her character, working as one of many ways to defy certain expectations when it comes to this genre.

Vance and Williams are as good as one would expect, given their veteran actor status. Also impressive are Aunjanue Ellis, who gets a spotlight episode with “I Am,” which lets the show really play with time and space, along with Wunmi Mosaku, who must endure one of the crazier visual transformations I’ve seen on a TV series dealing with body horror.

Making a lot of this series compelling is the idea of seeing black characters placed into plotlines generally reserved for white characters. “A History of Violence,” for example, feels like an ode to Indiana Jones, with a major difference as who the leads of this adventure are, which allows for unique reactions. One can say the same about many of these episodes, as this is a series totally informed by what it would be like for black characters, at this time in America, to contend with wild supernatural stuff, along with various forms of oppression. The series is all the better for that level of embrace and ideally allows for a lot of empathy for the viewer.

To say this is a dense series would be an understatement. There are many themes and ideas packed into the visual identity of this series, and those elements, along with the performers, filmmaking, and more, go a long way to help out the sometimes less than stellar plotting. Regardless, for a series that takes the work of an acclaimed but deeply problematic author and turns it all around, Lovecraft Country does a lot of powerful work that’s wonderfully informed by genre filmmaking, making for an entertaining series of episodes.



Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: There is a lot of great detail to take in, given the varying locales and sets featured in this season, along with the ways the supernatural elements are presented. Aspects such as costume and makeup design also play a major role. All of this comes through incredibly well. The visual effects get a significant upgrade here as well, as there are times in a television series, especially when things can come across softer than intended through a cable stream, but this transfer does a fine job at holding onto a strong sense of clarity.

Depth: The use of the world these characters exist in allows for the Blu-ray transfer to convey the sense of depth very nicely. This is explored further when dealing with otherworldly elements, among other areas that really play into the series’ scale.

Black Levels: There are many dark and shadowy aspects to the look of this series, and they come through very nicely thanks to the dark and inky black levels featured on this Blu-ray presentation. Lots of costumes and nighttime scenes are on display with signs of crushing.

Color Reproduction: Given the style of the series and the different locations, some key moments play quite well regarding the use of color, which is necessary for a series like this. The various monsters and the time period allow some strong primary colors to inform the series and highlight specific characters and themes.

Flesh Tones: Things like lighting, locations, and other aspects keep the characters in constant flux, but textures and flesh tones always come through.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing to speak of.



Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish

Dynamics: I haven’t said much about the music in Lovecraft Country, but it combines score with many tracks that range from early songs fitting with the times to more contemporary tracks. It all sounds great on this lossless 5.1 audio track. The series has a lot going on in terms of the score, the action, and characters arguing. There is a strong handle on the presentation that helps this all come together.

Low-Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is given a chance to go to work often. This Blu-ray does a fine job of allowing the subwoofer to leave an impact thanks to all the craziness that comes from the monsters and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels do their job in immersing the viewer throughout every episode.  The ambiance, score, action, and dialogue are balanced quite well, making for a solid three-dimensional experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear.



All of the special features can be found on disc three of this set, and that’s not surprising, as there’s only so much material to be found. It would have been great to hear a commentary or two on some of the series’s key episodes. Instead, some extended EPKs do enough of a job to convey the approach, inspirations, and filmmaking, which is fine, just nothing all that revelatory.

Additionally, the series arrives in a standard case, housed inside a cardboard slipcover. Inside, you can find a handy guide to which episode is on each disc and a list of the special features. That’s always appreciated.

Features Include:

  • Orithyia Blue and the Imagination of Diana Freeman (HD, 11:20) – This feature specifically tackles the graphic novel being created by a character in the show, serving as a key meta-aspect of this series.
  • Lovecraft Country: Compendium of Horrors (HD, 12:26) – This feature takes a look at the series’ gothic elements, exploring the nature of the imagery seen to capture the period and the horrific supernatural elements, which involved a combination of special effects.
  • Crafting Lovecraft Country (HD, 28:14) – This feature takes a look at the production side of the series, allowing for some longer looks at building the world of this series, utilizing a variety of special effects, and calling out on how to bridge several ideas not typically associated together.
  • Exploring Lovecraft Country (HD) – A series of brief looks at the characters and the series, as explained by the cast (and no ‘Play All’ option, which would have been useful).
    • Aujanu Ellis (1:02)
    • Abbey Lee (1:00)
    • Courtney B. Vance (1:02)
    • Jada Harris (1:01)
    • Jonathan Majors (1:02)
    • Jurnee Smollett (1:02)
    • Michael Kenneth Williams (1:02)
    • Wunmi Mosaku (1:02)
  • Lovecraft Country The Craft (HD) – A series of brief looks at the series, as explained by the crew.
    • Afua Richardson (2:01)
    • Eric Yamamoto (1:02)
    • Carey Jones (2:01)
    • JP Jones (1:55)
  • Digital HD Copy of The Series



Lovecraft Country is the kind of series you hope you can get every so often in these modern times. There’s a sense of importance to the overall theme, matched with terrific production values and performances. Plus, it comes in a highly watchable package thanks to the use of genre. This Blu-ray set does a terrific job as far as the video and audio presentation, with just enough extras to help fill in some details concerning the filmmaking and other opinions. For a revisionist take on Lovecraftian horror, check this series out.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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