As I’ve mentioned a few times before on this blog, I was a bit of a latecomer to the whole podcast trend, but now I am definitely onboard the train! While most of my selections concern political news, true crime, and word-nerdyness, some of my favorites are more full of mystery and horror than anything else. There’s the Black Tapes and Lore, which were some of my first forays into the genre, and now I’ve got Deadly Manners and Darkest Night. Well, I had Darkest Night… I binge-listened to both seasons this weekend!
I was first alerted to the existence of Deadly Manners last Friday, when it was mentioned on another one of my podcasts, Criminal. A new 10-episode series that is narrated by LeVar Burton (who I have loved since his Reading Rainbow days) and features Kristen Bell (who I have loved since her Veronica Mars days), Deadly Manners is essentially Clue in podcast form.
Written by Ali Garfinkel and directed by Alex Aldea, it’s set during the winter of 1954 at the Billings estate, where Veronica (Bell) and William Billings (Denis O’Hare) are hosting their annual dinner party. During the festivities, a blizzard rolls in, trapping all of the guests inside. What follows is, as Dana Schwartz writes, “a classic ‘and then there were none’ scenario,” with murders happening just about every time the lights go out.
While I took copious notes as I listened to the first two episodes, which dropped last Tuesday, I’m not going to say too much more than that. Though I do have theories about who might be behind the crimes, Garfinkel has crafted the story in such a way that just about everyone seems like they could have done it. Being only three episodes in, it’s hard to know what the motive(s) might be, but it is quite clear that not everything is what it seems.
After coming home and diving right in to Deadly Manners, I was primed for more chills and discovered Darkest Night, a sister podcast of sorts. (Both series are productions of AMC Networks’ Shudder, a streaming service for all things horror, and the Paragon Collective, a podcast network.)
Though it is written by a variety of authors, Darkest Night is directed, edited, and produced by Aldea and Victor Figueroa. Narrated by Lee Pace, the podcast takes place in a lab at the Roth Lobdow Center for Advanced Research, where scientists have discovered a way to view the recovered memories of the recently deceased. As an anthology series, each episode builds upon the last until the season reaches its tense, thread-tying conclusion.
Unlike Deadly Manners, which falls firmly on the mystery/suspense side of the spectrum, Darkest Night is definitely more horror-based. The stories are creepier and graphic, things that are only amplified by the podcast’s immersive binaural sound. The squelches in particular were tough for me, and there were times when my jaw dropped, my body shivered, or my stomach churned, so WARNING: Darkest Night is good, but not for the faint of heart.
Spooky stories, whether written, filmed, or recorded, are fun any time of the year, but there’s something about October that makes them even more thrilling. Perhaps it’s the chill in the air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, and the Halloween decorations in people’s yards. Or maybe it’s the exciting rush of adrenaline that comes from being scared, while knowing that you are safely ensconced on your couch. Whatever it is, I am all about it and together, Deadly Manners and Darkest Night have helped me ring in my most wonderful time of the year!