‘Lovecraft Country’ couldn’t have scored a better director.
On the heel’s of Jordan Peele‘s Oscar win Sunday night, Deadline is reporting that his next production has acquired some fresh talent. Yann Demange, the filmmaker behind the acclaimed British indie ’71, has signed on to produce and direct the first episode of HBO’s Lovecraft Country.
This will be Demange’s US television debut. He grew up in London and started his career in TV there, helming episodes of Secret Diary of a Call Girl. He then directed the five-part series Dead Set, which is a fun horror comedy about a run of Big Brother that gets derailed due to a zombie outbreak (it’s currently streaming on Netflix and worth a look). He also directed part of Criminal Justice, the series remade in America as The Night Of.
Demange then made his feature debut with the painfully intense ’71. The film, set in the titular year at the height of The Troubles, is about a British soldier who gets separated from his unit during a riot in Belfast. It’s an amazing work and earned nine British Independent Film Award nominations. Demange deservedly won for Best Director.
His deft handling of the subject matter of ’71 will be relevant to his work on Lovecraft Country. The show is based on a novel of the same name by Matt Ruff and follows a road trip across 1950s America as an African American man searches for his lost father. The decade was a time fraught with racial tensions and Civil Rights struggles. The Jim Crow laws enabled so many real-world monsters to lash out.
This will not be Demange’s first time working with a tense subject matter. The Troubles lasted for 30 years as a simmering, low intensity conflict. While things are significantly improved since then, the type of ethno-nationalist conflict at the core of ’71 doesn’t just fade way. It’s there. That is to say, it isn’t as though he was dealing with a distant, painful memory in that film. It’s still very raw. The same thing is true for racially motivated violence in the US.
Jim Crow America was a hellscape for non-whites. It was dangerous to travel cross country, hardly a place of sojourn and learning for African Americans as it was for some of our great writers. The open road meant a long voyage of uncertainty where rage and violence might strike at any time.
Lovecraft Country will combine the reality of racism in America with Lovecraftian horrors to the point where the two are indistinguishable. This is exactly the kind of fantasy horror where truth is worse than the most terrifying of eldritch monsters. It’s a horrifying premise.
Given his experience with ’71 and his cinematic familiarity with horrors both real and fantastical, Demange seems well suited for this production.
Last summer, Lovecraft Country was reported to be an anthology based tv show, so it’s unclear if Demange will be around for more than the first episode. Whether or not he will be around for additional installments is of some note, as he has been rumored to be in consideration to direct the next James Bond film. But depending on Demange’s length of commitment to this series, he might now be out of contention for the gig.
Lovecraft Country will be co-produced by Monkeypaw Productions (Peele’s company), Bad Robot, and Warner Bros Television as a straight-to-series drama. Misha Green (Underground) is onboard to write.