HBO’s Lovecraft Country is a show about the agony and ecstasy of the horror genre. Borrowing its name from one of the great authors of pulp fiction, the series pays homage to genre storytelling by undercutting their conventions. In most fantasy tales, a hero transcends everyday life to battle supernatural monsters more horrifying than anything real or familiar. In Lovecraft Country, though, the creepy vampiric creatures our characters face are nothing compared to the omnipresent danger poses by systemic racism.
Case in point: the “Sundown County” chase scene in Lovecraft Country Episode 1, “Sundown” is infinitely more terrifying than the subsequent battle against the mythical shoggoths. That short sequence of a racist cop ensnaring heroes Atticus (Jonathan Majors), Letitia (Jurnee Smollett), and George (Courtney B. Vance) in a sadistically slow race against the setting sun will haunt me far longer than a gory showdown against Lovecraftian monsters. As well it should.
Lovecraft Country was created by Underground co-creator Misha Green and based on the Matt Ruff novel of the same name. The series follows Korean war vet and pulp fiction bibliophile Atticus “Tic” Freeman as he journeys across 1950s America in a quest to find his missing father Montrose (Michael K. Williams). Joining him are his kind and erudite Uncle George and childhood friend Letitia “Leti” Lewis. Their travels eventually bring them to central Massachusetts on the hunt for an obscure town called Ardham. However, while searching through the woods for a road that will lead them there, they are stopped by a villainous sheriff named Eustace Hunt (Jamie Harris).
“Any of y’all know what a sundown town is?” Hunt asks, shotgun in hand.
“Yes sir, we do,” George carefully replies.
“Well this is a sundown county,” Hunt says. “If I had found you pissing in my woods after dark it would have been my sworn duty to hang every single one of you from them trees.”
Understanding that sundown towns were places across America — not just in the south — where whites could murder Black people after dark with total impunity, Atticus cleverly points out that’s not sundown yet. They only have a matter of minutes, though, before they are at the mercy of Hunt. Our heroes have to race to the county line, all while knowing the clock is ticking and they can’t speed a smidge off the 25 mph limit, or else fall into Hunt’s hands.
It is an excruciating sequence that director Yann Demange cranks up the horror on through a rhythmically tense series of shots, cuts, and thrumming music. It’s also pulled almost verbatim from Matt Ruff’s book. However, Lovecraft Country showrunner Misha Green makes one genius change from the book: she puts our heroes through it.
In Ruff’s Lovecraft Country, the tale of a white cop hounding a wayward Black traveler close to nightfall is a story that George shares with Atticus early on in Chapter 1. The events happen to a friend of George’s named Victor Franklin. When Victor crosses the county line, he is able to hit the gas pedal and drive to safety. Victor’s is a cautionary tale, but one with a happy ending. By putting Atticus, Leti, George in this position, Green makes the horror of the tale all the more immediate. We’ve spent the whole first episode of Lovecraft Country falling in love with these three characters. Watching them deal with this nightmare in real, achingly slow time, makes the scenario all the more visceral.
In fact, this whole episode of Lovecraft Country puts the viewer into the shoes of a Black person trying to survive life in Jim Crow America. From the very beginning of Lovecraft Country Episode 1 “Sundown,” we see that the cross-country travels that contemporary white Americans (like myself) take for granted represented perilous journeys for Black people in the not-so-distant past. It is a cinematic exploration of the pain, trauma, and cruelty inflicted on real people in real life.
The other thing that’s so unsettling about this sequence is how it doesn’t just illustrate one of the most terrible chapters in American history — the proliferation of sundown towns — but it encapsulates how absurdly evil those policies were. This is not a real race. Atticus is unable to drive as fast as he could since he’s literally handicapped by the speed limit. It’s not even as though our heroes are doing anything legally wrong. They are just Black in a town ruled by racism. And the whole point of racism is to disenfranchise a person of their humanity. Case in point: the moment when Hunt makes Atticus refer to himself as the n-word in front of his friend and family. It’s a sadistically dehumanizing move that stings all the more because the audience knows by now that Atticus carries an aura of real nobility. (It’s also a line that Green adds to the show that’s not in the book. It hammers home the outrage of this whole situation.)
The sundown county chase scene is a chilling reminder of the real horrors faced by Black Americans in this country. It’s so effective that it outshines the Lovecraft Country premiere’s other big horror set piece. After crossing the county line, Atticus, George, and Leti’s relief turns to panic as they see a blockade of cop cars waiting for them. Upon being led to the woods to be executed, our heroes salvation comes from an unlikely place: an attack of gruesome vampiric monsters Atticus calls “shoggoths.” In the chaos of the creatures’ attack, our heroes are able to fight their way to safety.
The horror elements in the shoggoth attack are campy, bloody, and underpinned by the conventions of horror. Our heroes? Safe, only after outsmarting the enemy. Our villains? Murdered quickly, often thanks to their selfish foolishness. While this latter sequence is heart-pounding, it’s not nearly as haunting as the sundown chase preceding it.
The grisly jump scares of shoggoths hopping into frame and chomping off limbs in Lovecraft Country is fun. We know Lovecraft’s monsters aren’t real. The sundown chase, though, is utterly excruciating to watch. That’s because sundown towns, lynching, and the systemic racism that buttressed these sins are all too real. And we haven’t even begun to reckon with them.
Where to stream Lovecraft Country
Disney Plus Mulan Fails to Make an Impact
Disney Plus’s most anticipated movie of the year was Live-Action Mulan, the infamous remake of the 1998 version of the Disney classic Mulan. With a budget of almost $200 million and alot of hard work involved, the film release’s expectations and excitement were at an all-time high. Disney’s marketing team left no stone unturned in promoting the film throughout the world as Mulan was one of the most influential female protagonists in a Disney movie.
Mulan was known for her power and courage to take a step towards change and create a name for herself instead of becoming a burden for her family. She brought them honor but not through finding a compatible suitor, but through her bravery in fighting amongst the opposite gender when it was considered a taboo.
But did the real Mulan walk in the footsteps of the animated one? Did it create an impact as strong as the classic version, which people love and adore even after 23 years? Sadly, no. The live-Action Mulan was nothing like the 1998 Mulan because it was not supposed to be that way.
The old Chinese folklore inspired the Live-Action Mulan. The Balad of Mulan, which was different, more serious, and portrayed a much more feminist approach by eliminating any romantic or cartoonish elements or characters from the remake.
The elimination of the character of Mushu came as a surprise for all the die-hard Mulan fans who were anticipating the voice-over of Eddie Murphy in a better-animated dragon who is by Mulan’s side, aiding in tough times. We did see a dragon, but it was a silent companion only coming in need. The remake also got rid of all the eventful songs which were hummed as we watched the animated version all the time.
Another setback was the mediocre release of Mulan during the Pandemic, which basically ruined the official March release. Mulan eventually made the screen on September 4 on Disney+ Premier Access, a pay-to-view for $30 across the US. In contrast, countries where Covid-19 was under control, saw a theater release like China. But that hardly made 50% of the total movie budget. Disney hoped to make some dollars in China by accurately depicting the Chinese culture and actors, but that didn’t happen either.
Viewers with access to Disney+ also did not venture enough on the Premier Access service. What further disappointed the release was Mulan’s availability on multiple torrents and platforms for free in HD quality on its release. VPN users worldwide watched the movie for free without paying a whopping amount of $30 for a single film, while the whole service along with other streaming services cost ⅓ of the price.
Live-Action Mulan was also under scrutiny for shooting in the Xinjiang, the region of China where Uighur Muslims were detained and imprisoned in concentration camps. This sparked outrage over the entire social media, where Muslims worldwide protested against the Chinese government’s actions. Disney+ did not state an official apology on their platform, nor did they acknowledge their wrongdoings, probably to stay clear of the Chinese government’s atrocity.
Meanwhile, even within China, Mulan failed to impact the Chinese audience as they have a much better take and approach to recreating any Chinese epic or myths. Their cinema is far more advanced in portraying their culture with local actors and a local production house. As we all know, China has a strict censorship policy on international content, and they have an alternate of their own. It applies here as well.
Lastly, the ill-natured tweet of the lead actress Liu Yifei, openly supporting the Hong Kong Police’s atrocities when China was implementing new security policies on Hong Kong, claiming it as a part of the Chinese government. The Hong Kong police came under fire for mistreating peaceful protestors and using harsh means to disperse the crowd. This tweet leads to #boycottmulan across the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.
Liu Yifei made no outright apology.
Despite so much anticipation, live-action Mulan came under alot of controversy and failed to make a solid impression on the audience, despite holding a strong message for its feminist audience. Wrong timing and a few wrong decisions cost Disney millions of dollars and somewhat tarnished the reputation of their remake sagas.
5 Underrated Shows on Netflix USA You Must Watch Right Now!
American Netflix is home to hundreds of TV shows across multiple genres. Still, it could be hard at times to find something binge-worthy on it. Now we all have that one friend that’s perfectly content with re-watching their favorite TV series, but the rest of us normies find it a tad boring. We’re on a never-ending hunt for the next big show hoping to inject some excitement into our otherwise mundane existence. However, with so much to choose from, it’s only natural that a few gems go unnoticed when scrolling through the recommendations.
Don’t sweat it! After spending endless hours of research, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 underrated shows on Netflix USA that are definitely worth your time.
Can’t access US Netflix in your home country? There is an easy way around. Just download a Netflix VPN, connect to a US server, and start streaming.
Season(s): 1 season; 5 episodes
Year of release: 2019
1994 is a modest 5-episode docu-series offering the perfect guilt-free, binge-watching experience. The show revolves around a promising presidential candidate in Mexico who stands to threaten the status quo. Seen as a threat by the powerful elite, he gets shot during one of his televised political rallies. If the events of the first episode seem unusual, then what follows is downright bizarre.
Viewers are in store for surreal events backed by actual interviews and real-life footage that ups the ante with each passing episode. 1994 is a fascinating, informative, and rich account of one of the most turbulent times in Mexico. It not only gives viewers a glimpse of the past but also a story that follows a narrative very close to what we’re seeing in our present political climate.
- Rise of Empires: Ottoman
Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes
Year of release: 2020
Following the wildly popular show Ertugrul—at least in the eastern part of the world—Rise of Empires: Ottoman features a historic mix of immaculate production value and dramatic re-enactment of the 1453 fall of Constantinople. A Turkish production, the show is entirely in English and revolves around the life of a young Ottoman Sultan named Mehmet. It shows how the 21-year old leader risks everything to conquer a city his father and so many others failed to take before him.
This point marked a crucial juncture in history: The fall of the Roman Empire and the transition of a local regional entity to that of a global superpower. While the show does have its set of drawbacks (such as the frequent History Channel-type flashbacks), the appeal of our protagonist is sure to have viewers in for a memorable ride.
- Wild Wild Country
Season(s): 1 season; 6 episodes
Year of release: 2018
The mere mention of Wild Wild Country in front of veteran Netflix viewers is sure to garner you some respect points. Based on a true story, Wild Wild Country tells the tale of an Indian cult that’s decided to relocate to Oregon. What ensues is a series of unusual events as the locals struggle to come to terms with the new inhabits and in particular, the eccentric leader of this cult: Bhagwan. This mini-series manages to capture and re-tell a significant—albeit unusual—event in American history and media and retell it in a way that’s sure to leave some viewers scratching their heads!
- Lenox Hill
Season(s): 1 season; 9 episodes
Year of release: 2020
For those looking to embark on a roller-coaster ride of emotions, look no further than Lenox Hill. While we do recommend this docu-series especially if you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy or ER, Lenox Hill is not your average watch. It’s a far cry from what you’d call a feel-good series as it reveals the brutal reality associated with people diagnosed with really bad things.
Set in New York, the show follows the story of an ER physician, an OB-GYN, and two brain surgeons that are part of a small-time hospital competing with bigger establishments. It lifts the curtain from the otherwise romanticized emergency-ward that we’ve grown accustomed to and accurately depicts the struggles of both patients and doctors.
This highly emotional series might not sit well with everyone but if you want to watch a story about individuals that sacrifice everything to save others then this one’s for you.
Season(s): 2 seasons; 12 episodes
Year of release: 2016
The Office is the most viewed show on Netflix according to Chicago Tribune which is a pity because its contract is set to expire on January 1, 2021. Enter Borderline, a British comedy series and ‘mockumentary’ of sorts that follows a similar pattern and humor as The Office. Set in the fictional Northend Airport instead of an office, viewers are quickly introduced to a slew of funny and ridiculous personalities.
The best part of the series is that it has its own version of Pam, Dwight, Jim, and a Michael type-boss. It also doesn’t try too hard to resemble its more popular counterpart and a few episodes are enough to make you wonder why more people aren’t watching it!
Agree with our list? Know of some underrated shows that need more love? Let us know in the comments section below!
The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses
When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.
What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?
As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.
- It saves your money
Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.
- It allows you to try several games
Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.
- It will make future gambling more profitable
Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.
Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.
We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.