I fancy myself a lover of all things horror, and yet it’s been brought to my attention recently that I only listen to a single horror podcast. Despite having my headphones in my ears near constantly, listening to podcasts as I work, horror is woefully underrepresented in my listen list. I discovered this while listening to one of the hiatus episodes of my lone horror podcast, The Magnus Archives, the latest episode of which was a recording of a Pod UK Horror Panel. They mentioned podcast after podcast I’d never even heard of, and I knew I’d have to give them a try.
However, I have a strange aversion to starting new shows. Once I’ve bought into it, I’m hooked, but the first episode is always the hardest for me to pay attention to. So this week I’ve chosen five podcasts (of which I know little else but their names) and listened to the first episode of each, searching for my next horror obsession.
Blackwood was described as a Canadian horror podcast with incredible production quality, and it really is a very easy listen. It’s in the sub-genre of small town, local legend horror, and the mystery of it is set up very quickly. Three teenagers start a podcast investigating the “The Bugman,” a local boogeyman they’ve all heard of but know little about. Based on the intro, I expect it all goes terribly wrong, and there’s already been a few interesting twists. Of course, with only six episodes, it has to get to the meat of the story pretty fast.
I’ve yet to decide if I’m actually hooked, but it’s intriguing enough that I’d like to give episode 2 a listen.
The Black Tapes
This is actually the only podcast here I’d heard of before, mainly because I’ve heard people complain that the ending was disappointing. Still, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a shot, especially since the last episode, released November 2017, was recently updated to read as a mid-season finale, indicating that there may be more on the horizon.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. I’ve only listened to the first episode. And the first episode has me hooked. This is a story about ghost hunters, and I can already tell it’s going to keep me on my toes as far as what is real and what is hoax. The last few minutes gave me those shivers up the spine I always look for in something horror.
First impressions: I think it’s going to straddle the line of suspense well, avoiding the boredom that can come from either nothing happening or from things happening so often they become mundane.
Down Below the Reservoir
This was the most horrifying thing I’ve listened to in a long time. It was horrifying in the way that only a campfire story can be, written and told purely for the joy of watching your listeners put their hand over their mouths, seeing their eyes grow wide as the backs of their necks grow cold. This is horror in the purest sense. I once read somewhere that fear is seeing a wolf, terror is seeing it charge you, and horror is realizing your feet are stuck to the floor. It gives you that heavy drop in your stomach, and the poetic way the story’s told only adds to the atmosphere.
The first episode felt pretty self-contained, so I think it’s going to be a series of short stories as opposed to an overarching tale. I’m going to save these for when I need a good scare, because I know this isn’t the kind of show I’ll be able to binge.
The Six Disappearances of Ella McCray
This is the most surreal episode I listened to this week. The premise of the show is that, as you may have gathered, Ella McCray disappeared. The kicker is that six people were there to witness it, and none of them saw the same thing. With such a large cast of characters, they’ve done an excellent job differentiating everyone, so it isn’t too hard to keep track (for the most part), and the way the story jumps POVs is done really well.
The idea of it is so wild that I have to keep listening just to see what the truth of it is, but I am a little concerned that whatever it is will disappointing. I’ve been burned before, been faced with impossible mysteries where the writers weren’t able to pull off a satisfying explanation. So I’m a little guarded going in, but ultimately eager to listen to it play out.
Hooray! A good old-fashioned ghost story! Kind of. I am very excited to keep listening to Mirrors. It starts off strong with a spooky sighting in an old house in the 1960’s, and changes POV partway through to the experience of a woman sometime near our own, and then, to my great joy, changes POV again to another woman’s experience in a future century. The apparition is properly spooky, and I have very high hopes for this blend of sci-fi and ghost story. One very good sign: I’m already attached to the characters, which is something I can’t really say for any of the other shows yet.
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Image credits to their respective podcasts.
Mirrors image additional credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images firstname.lastname@example.org http://wellcomeimages.org The anatomy of the eye, choroid and iris exposed showing the various nerves. The physiological anatomy and physiology of man / Robert Bentley Todd Published: 1845-1856. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/