Yesterday, an HBO press release and teaser trailer intrigued Lovecraft Country fans with the promise of a one-of-a-kind virtual reality experience this fall. The VR companion to HBO’s sci-fi horror series will be called Lovecraft Country: Sanctum, according to the studio’s press release found in its entirety at CBR.
Virtual effects studio, The Mill, worked with HBO and Lovecraft Country creators to shape the wholly original VR experience that aims to spotlight Black artists. The voice talents of series regulars Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country, Da 5 Bloods), Courtney B. Vance (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire) and Jurnee Smollett (Birds of Prey) will all be featured in the experience, with Smollett set to deliver a James Baldwin-inspired speech crafted by Lovecraft Country writer Shannon Houston (Lovecraft Country, Little Fires Everywhere), via Nerdist. Pieces from afrofuturist artists David Alabo, Devan Shimoyama and Adeyemi Adegbesan can be found in an art installation within Sanctum. Select guests to the VR experience can also attend a virtual concert performed by a yet-to-be-named artist.
The work of Black artists help to build the world of Lovecraft Country: Sanctum, but what else can audiences expect when they don their Oculus Quest headsets? Vice President of Program Marketing at HBO, Dana Flax, indicates that Sanctum features a VR “secret society” (Nerdist). Flax additionally reports that the VR world is filled with immersive escape rooms and puzzles, in addition to the theatrical opportunities available to guests.
Lovecraft Country’s buzz-worthy tales of horror, set in the Jim Crow era, have proven a success at HBO, with the show’s premiere drawing nearly 1.4 million viewers, according to Variety. However, only “100 select influential voices” will be lucky enough to experience Sanctum firsthand, via Nerdist. Those 100 specially selected guests will be given the opportunity to interact with one another using a social VR platform, while the non-selected fans can still get in on the action on YouTube Live. Those watching on YouTube Live will still have the opportunity to play an active role in the VR experience by “[interacting] in real-time [and] solving riddles to trigger spells that directly impact the experience” (Nerdist).
The first event in the world of Lovecraft Country: Sanctum, titled “Garden of Eden”, will be streamed for audiences on Thursday, September 3. “Take a stroll through a whimsical garden,” reads the description for “Garden of Eden” on Sanctum’s HBO page “[explore] a unique vision of Black beauty, power, and life.” On September 24, Sanctum will return to YouTube Live with “An American Dream”, which will feature Smollett’s James Baldwin-inspired performance. The final event, “Music of the Cosmos”, will stream on October 19 and promises “a musical experience like no other” (HBO).
— Lovecraft Country (@LovecraftHBO) September 1, 2020