Haunted: The Audio Drama review
Production Company – Impala Films
This was one of those podcasts thrown up by the all powerful algorithms that seemingly make most of our decisions for us these days. As I’ve said before, sometimes they give you gold, other times, not so much. So is this gold or something more unsavoury? Well, I’m not going to tell you in the opening paragraph am I? You’ll have to read on find out.
So what’s it about?
Abigail Corbyn, a young paranormal podcaster with an excess of eagerness, searches out the reclusive James Hunter, an alcoholic former parapsychologist who is doing his best (and generally succeeding) to avoid the rest of humanity. Reluctantly he agrees to help Abigail try to solve a mysterious series of murders in the small town where she lives.
Soon they piece together a very strange tale indeed. One that involves seemingly normal people going on the aforementioned murderous rampages, ancient symbols and mind control. Season two kicks off with a spooky appearance of a ghost child which may or may not tie in to the events in season 1. This sounds like quite the plot stew, and in some ways it is. There are certainly many threads to weave here and for the most part they work. There are some times though, where things that at first mention seem like they will be important, end up being glossed over. The series isn’t over yet, so there may well be some overarching scheme here that I can’t possibly know about. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
Is it any good?
Well, yes and no. It really reminds me of 1970s British radio dramas. It seems very low budget and the voice acting isn’t great. Sometimes it’s not even good, but that adds to the nostalgic charm. If you took out the references to the internet and mobile phones, then it could easily pass for a very old show indeed. This is something of a double edged sword really, and I’m not sure if this style is intentional or not. It may be because of budget constraints (as it was in the 70s) or a definite and deliberate homage.
I also can’t overlook the similarity of James Hunter and that other legendary curmudgeon of the paranormal, Jonathan Sims, head archivist at The Magnus Archives. It may just be an accent thing, but I can’t get it out of my head. There is also a rather obvious (to me at least) similarity between this series and Doctor Who. An older, cynical male knowitall is accompanied by a younger, naive female on a very dangerous mission against an unknown enemy. I would go so far as to compare Abigail to Sophie Aldred’s character “Ace” from the Sylvester McCoy era of Doctor Who. You, however may disagree.
Whether you’ll like this or not depends on a few things. If you enjoy the cosy, nostalgic charm of 1970s radio dramas and Nigel Kneale TV shows then you’ll like this a lot. If you grew up with modern, slick storytelling high production values then it will annoy you no end. I sit entirely in the former camp, and even then there are little parts that I find irritating. I am prepared to gloss over these niggles though and I’m slogging on regardless.
This is a shame, because the story itself is very good. The dialogue leans towards the cliché, especially in the more emotionally charged moments. And some of the supporting voice cast is rather poor. They also do that thing of having an adult woman do a child’s voice. Again, maybe this is down to budget constraints, but everytime I hear this it reminds me more of kids TV shows like Horrid Henry rather than The Simpsons. While an adult may well have the vocal range to do it, the actual mannerisms are all wrong. I realise that I have spent nearly a whole paragraph criticising a tiny part of one episode, but I think it’s justified.
As I go back through this post editing and adding, A thought has just struck me. I said that it is like a 1970s British radio drama, but it isnt. This series is like an early 1980s BBC kids tv show. Again you have the same nostalgia factor, as people old enough to remember one, will remember the other. It isn’t “horrific” enough to be the former, but it is exciting enough to be the latter. This won’t change my rating, but I include here for added clarity.
I gave this a three brain rating purely for the nostalgia factor. It was dangerously close to scoring lower. I’m sure there will be some who think I’m an idiot for scoring this so low, and some who think I’m an idiot for scoring it so high. It is what it is, give it a go. It’s not like you pay for it or anything.
You can get Haunted: An Audio Drama here:
Or wherever you get your podcasts