The Magnus Archives: Season 1 Review

This review may contain spoilers. From the Rusty Quill website:

“Make your statement, face your fear.”

The Magnus Archives is a weekly horror fiction anthology podcast examining what lurks in the archives of The Magnus Institute, an organisation dedicated to researching the esoteric and the weird. Join the new Head Archivist, Jonathan Sims, as he attempts to bring a seemingly neglected collection of supernatural statements up to date, converting them to audio and supplementing them with follow-up work from his small but dedicated team.

Individually, they are unsettling. Together they begin to form a picture that is truly horrifying because as he looks into the depths of the archives, something starts to look back…

I’ve really been into audio drama podcasts the last few months. I first got introduced to it a few years ago with Welcome to Nightvale. I wasn’t able to keep up with it once I lost my iPod Touch, so I didn’t bother to catch up when I got a new phone. Wanting to listen to something similar, I found out about We’re Alive, Tanis, and The Black Tapes. The last two were relatively new so I easily was able to binge both in a couple of weeks. I loved the format as well as the stories. We’re Alive was a lot longer though, I grew tired of the story as a whole so I abandoned it. Tanis and The Black Tapes are well made but I don’t like them as much as The Magnus Archives.

I think I discovered this podcast last month, in the audio drama subreddit. Season 2 was just starting and the reviews were really good. I was hooked (heh) right from the first episode.

Jonathan, at first, seems like this no-nonsense archivist who is determined to set straight the archive’s filing system which seemed to have been left in shambles by his predecessor.

The stories, or statements from eye-witness testimonies, that he narrates into the recorder are weird and often leave me mouthing “what the fuck” right after an episode. The podcast at first dealt with monster-of-the-week style of storytelling, but later episodes reveal an over-arching plot that ties the random series of statements together.

I think what draws me so much to TMA is that it is very similar to creepypastas available online. I am a sucker for creepypastas. Short stories which succeed in making you uneasy and questioning every thing remotely weird that happens to your every day life. One drawback to this format though is that when they decide to callback to a previous episode, I am often lost with names and would have to check online on what connection I missed. Thankfully, TMA has an active online community who are much more clever than me and actually keep track of the names and references on each episode.

The show has very minimal special effects as it’s just this nerd talking to a recorder most of  the time. But, the small team from Rusty Quill has handled the sound design beautifully especially on the last episodes of this season. There’s this episode which required a distorted crackly voice and I was downright creeped out on the effect it had, making the hairs at the back of my neck stand up. Kind of like an unpleasant ASMR experience. (I’ve also just recently started listening to Darkest Night, and I would love if TMA would also be presented in a binaural audio.)

The Magnus Archives: Season 1

10/10 would recommend to creepypasta lovers and fans of well-acted audio dramas

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