I picked up horror podcast The Magnus Archives after reading a rave review online somewhere – unfortunately I forget where – and binge-listened to every available episode inside a week. I downloaded the episodes onto my mp3 player, and made the mistake of listening to the first few in bed, in the dark, and ended up sleeping with a nightlight. That is entirely to the show’s credit, because a number of the stories took root in my mind and stuck with me for days afterwards, leaving me feeling generally uneasy and jumping as every weird noise in my house.
The Magnus Archives begins as tale of the week anthology series, like The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt or Tales of the Unexpected, with Head Archivist of the Magnus Institute, recording the statements of people who have come to the institute with tales of inexplicable encounters and occurrences.
As with any short story-type collection, some stories are stronger than others, but generally speaking they’re all well-written and intriguing, as well as seriously creepy. Whilst few of the stories are particularly gory or stomach-turning, most are deeply unsettling, playing on ordinary, everyday fears and those things which make us just a little uneasy – spiders, enclosed spaces, decomposition, rotting teeth, hypnotic patterns, the uncanny valley, the sense of being watched by something unseen, of the unknown and unknowable and, of course, the dark.
It wasn’t simply the good quality of the writing or the creepy statements that caught my imagination, however, and had me listening to every available episode – of which there are over a hundred – in seven days. What really hooked my attention was the gradual realisation that there are multiple connections and crossovers between the various statements that the Archivist reads and records, and an intriguing, overreaching story arc. There is something else going on in the Magnus Institute, beyond the collection of statements and research into the supernatural, and this is what kept me listening.
Verdict: Excellent, definitely worth a repeat listen.
The Magnus Archives is written by Jonathan Sims and produced by The Rusty Quill.