Welcome to Horror Movies Hub’s recap of the exciting horror series, Lovecraft Country! Thus far, Lovecraft Country is truly shaping up to be one of the scariest, most thought-provoking horror series of the year, and Episode Three, “Holy Ghost,” continued to deliver some supernatural awesomeness. As the credits rolled on the previous episode, we watched as a distraught Tic wept for a deceased George, who died due to his wounds at the hands of Samuel Braithwhite. Buckle up, horror fans, “Holy Ghost” takes us on a terrifying ride filled with frights and tear wrenching moments!
Three weeks have passed since the incident at Ardham, and Tic has been assisting Hippolyta in George’s absence. He helps her clean and cook, and he even assists her daughter, Dee, work on her swing and indulge her comic book writing dreams. Hippolyta hasn’t been informed of the truth behind what happened to George, though she knows that he was killed by white men. Montrose and Tic use this as their cover but it seems that Hippolyta is unsettled by the ordeal. She still wakes up bright and early each morning, still wears a smile when greeting Tic and Dee, but she is still heartbroken and devastated. She casually rips pages of George’s copy of Count Dracula as Tic cooks breakfast downstairs. Though she doesn’t cry, the pain and heartache can be seen in her thousand-yard stare. Despite this, Tic maintains his innocence and refuses to reveal the total truth.
Leti has been busy for a few weeks securing a house, which she reveals to her begrudging sister Ruby. At first, Ruby can’t understand how or why Leti can afford such a massive house, being as broke as she is, but rescinds her disdain when Leti pleads to allow her to repay Ruby for all the kindness she’s done. Various denizens of South Chicago flock to their new home and before long, they have a lodge for black people. Unfortunately, the lodge they secured sits square in the middle of a segregated town with a very dark past that Leti has yet to discover.
Plight of The Negro Haunted House
Misha Green sets up “Holy Ghost” as a typical haunted house episode, and it’s a stark contrast to driving around Lovecraft Country waiting on the next sheriff to rear his head behind the trees. We don’t waste time giving ownership of the property to an older throwaway character. This episode showcases Leti front and center as head woman of the house while working to free tortured spirits from their prison. On the morning of their move-in, Tic comes by to bid Leti farewell, as he plans to go back to Florida. Though he laments that he should have been on active duty a month before, he decides to stay when a group of white men park three Ford cars in front of the house and tie bricks to the car horns.
The next three days are followed by Leti weathering the intimidation tactics and trying to get comfy in her new home. This tactic comes to a standstill when a burning cross is discovered in the lawn the night Leti decides to throw a party to drown out the noise. Taking a bat and all the anger conjured in Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” Leti smashes the windows out and removes the bricks before surrendering as cops arrive.
Leti reveals to Tic her findings on the house: eight bodies were found in the basement by local law enforcement years ago, though nothing was ever proven about their disappearance. The sheriff Lancaster had an infamous rap sheet with harassing and harming black folks, while Hiram was simply a physician who performed on patients that were given to him. Since Hiram Epstein was the original owner, she deduces that Lancaster must have been kidnapping and transporting black bodies to Hiram, who would then experiment on them inside his basement. Tic agrees, and they both endeavor to put a stop to the madness. Leti decides to employ the help of an African voodoo priestess to exorcise the spirits from the house, an old contact of her mother’s. While the group attempts this, three would-be “do-gooders” break into the house while the trio are in the basement. Armed with bats, they slowly creep from room to room in search of minorities to prey on in another attempt to scare them away.
Violence and horror ensue when the house begins picking the men off one by one. The first man peers into the house elevator before being sporadically decapitated by the slide car. His body slumps back to the ground while the camera takes a bloody, uncomfortably long closeup of the severed stump where his head was formerly located. Brilliant CGI here really makes the effects pop in ways most horror series don’t capture.
The remaining two men venture farther upstairs but are cornered into a hallway before being steamed alive by the radiator. What this sequence lacks in brutality for long periods of time it makes up for with what I like to call emotional terror. These men are very quickly dispatched to make room for the real finale of the episode: Leti’s ceremonial exorcism of the house’s spirits.
The priestess informs them that they must maintain a mark on their heads if these spirits are as malevolent as they claim. Surprisingly, she brings a virgin goat up to the patio and slits its throat right then and there, spilling its blood into a bin, and then goes about marking the house. In the basement she claims to feel a particular presence and asks Tic and Leti to hold her hand. The priestess chants in creole while the photos slowly levitate around them—an unnatural wind current swirls around the room.
Suddenly it stops, and the basement sprinklers spray water onto their heads, washing the marks away. A demonic spirit transfers to the priestess now as Leti struggles to get her footing. After choking Tic, the spirit then transfers to Tic while the priestess is immobilized. Leti howls in terror as Tic’s eyes glaze over black as he slowly edges towards her. Demonically possessed, Hiram’s face can be seen in distorted light at certain angles while Tic mimics and mouths off.
Realizing Emotional Terror
At this time, a negro hymn can be heard over drums as the spirits of the house come together in a circle with Leti. A newborn babies’ head sits atop an athlete’s body. A seemingly dead corpse drags itself across the floor with no head, an elderly woman clutches her purse as the open gash in her mouth reveals the insides of her esophagus. One man has a nail driven cleanly through the base of his skull. A teenage girl has been brutalized, her breasts and left arm sliced off. Shockingly, a woman stands with a stillborn held in her arm, a clear path of blood and sinew at her belly tied to an umbilical cord.
This sequence embodies emotional horror like few shows have, and it is one of the most emotionally gripping and terrifying moment of any horror series to date.
A flurry of emotions overtake Leti as she shouts with intense fury, “Get the fuck out of my house,” through choked tears and streams of sweat coming down her shoulders. As she chants, the spirits converge in a circle with her at the center of the basement. Now Hiram’s dark form can be seen clear as day, a withered and dead husk with a lab coat and ashen blonde hair. As Hiram’s ghost dissolves into dust, the tortured spirits begin to heal and return to their original form before slowly fading away into peace.
The next day, Christina is seen handling business with a local buyer while Tic arrives through her door. Tic rushes the other man out of the room before locking the door, closing the blinds, and aiming a gun at her head. He grips and strains his muscles as hard as he can, but no amount of pressure causes the trigger to pull. Christina stares irritatingly at him, biting her lip. “Shall I continue the education,” she asks.
Christina then brings the mythos of the episode “Holy Ghost” to its full circle. In this life, most disciplined witches rarely get to perform more than one or two spells, so they tend to try their best to make them really good. Titus’ claim to fame happened to be his invulnerability spell; he believed if a human couldn’t be harmed, then they couldn’t die. Using his book of names, Titus mentored many Sons of Adam practitioners to his cause. Of these students, Hiram Epstein was his star pupil but took issue with Titus selfishly withholding the secret of the language of Adam from the world. Hiram sought to discover the language himself using stolen pages of the book, pointing to Hanna and Tic’s family lineage.
Christina casually strides to the front door before doubling back to place a card inside Tic’s shirt pocket. She urges him to get in contact with her if he ever wants to get more acquainted with their family line. She finishes her speech with a careful warning, whispering to Tic that he can’t just go around killing white women.
Devilishly played, Christina.
Delivering Black Trauma
Hiram Epstein abducted and kidnapped black men, women, and children, performed a ritual of invulnerability on them, and proceeded to dissect and maim their body parts to then attach to others. Though that brutal sequence likely shocked audiences, many viewers might take comfort that this is a work of fiction, that racial hatred on that level could never be plausible enough to happen to someone they know or to themselves. However, this is based on very real historical circumstances that saw the deaths of many black women.
Hiram Epstein is more than likely inspired by Marion Sims, a 19th century physician credited as “The Father of Gynecology.” What the history books have only recently revealed about Sims is that he performed all of his experiments almost exclusively on black female slaves. From the late 19th century to 2018, a statue of Sims stood proudly across the way from The New York Academy of Medicine in Central Park. According to Vanessa Northington Gamble, a professor at George Washington University, Sims operated on at least ten black women from 1846 to 1849, all with no anesthesia.
The commonly held belief that black women registered pain differently dominated the medical field at this time in history, and Sims made sure to test that theory personally. Of the various women Sims operated on, Anarcha Wescott, a slave woman, stands out among the rest. Anarcha reportedly endured more than 30 surgeries with no anesthesia at the hands of Sims. Among his patients were two slave women, Lucy and Betsy, also names mentioned by Leti in her search of the house’s victims.
This circumstance truly presents a premise and experience wholly unique and appealing to the eye of African Americans. Though it can be assumed that certain aspects of the depiction are devastating to all human eyes, it rings particularly frightening to black audiences terrified by bias in the health industry, for example, the juxtaposition in current death rates in black women compared to other women of the world. For some, it feels like a ghost world where black children are born by the mother’s flesh and blood but handled and delivered by ghostly, misunderstanding hands. Perhaps the fear of the world’s ignorance shackles them to that prison?
(TW: Assault) Anarcha Wescott, Betsey Harris & Lucy Zimmerman were enslaved women operated on by J. Marion Sims without their consent.— Progress Iowa (@ProgressIowa) February 18, 2019
Sims performed these surgeries w/o any anesthesia, laboring under the belief that Black women had higher pain tolerances. #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/ur4ykK1Eme
This episode of Lovecraft Country succeeds in creating its own haunted house scenario with a particular flavor of cinematography that is sure to scare the crap out of you. Show creator Misha Green has truly made a cinematic piece of gold in the horror series genre. While some of the performances weren’t as on par with their real-life counterparts, this reviewer was on the edge of his seat and in complete tears as the credits rolled. Join us next time for our recap of Lovecraft Country Episode Four, and let’s see what this horror series delivers next!