I should preface this by saying that I do not like horror. I am a complete chicken when it comes to ghosts and monsters and haunted demon dolls. I have never once found something I’ve enjoyed within the horror genre. But I quite like The Magnus Archives.
The Magnus Archives is a horror podcast that takes place in modern-day England. The story revolves around Jon Sims, the new head archivist of the Magnus Institute, an establishment that researches supernatural occurrences. Sounds pretty cool so far, right?
The series wastes no time in establishing its tone and atmosphere from the first episode with a story that could be written off as creepy (but maybe not quite supernatural) and slowly building as the series progresses. And while each episode begins benignly enough, as it progresses it grows more and more horrifying as the supernatural encounters slowly unfold.
What first got me interested in The Magnus Archives was its unique format; it’s mainly written in an epistolary format, taking the shape of statements written by people who believe they have had paranormal encounters and read on a tape recorder by the main character, Jon Sims. Each episode is mainly divided between the statement and the supplemental notes, where the archivist comments on what he’s just read. It’s a fun and distinctive style of podcast that I haven’t encountered before and it’s incredibly interesting how they manage to tell a captivating story within the tight confines of their format.
What kept me listening to the podcast, despite how the podcast firmly cements itself in the horror genre, was the writing of the podcast itself. Because the writing is wonderful. It’s so utterly atmospheric as the statements are read to the audience, and you can actually feel your own mounting horror as you get closer and closer to the climax of each episode. The series relies heavily on its writing. The only extra effects are the sounds of the tape recorder clicking on, the archivist or anyone else in the scene moving around, and a quiet violin for background music that can be heard as the tension and fear begins to manifest itself within each new statement.
While each episode is interesting on its own, something else that’s utterly captivating is the way it manages to tell a long, arcing story. Each individual statement seems self-contained, but as you listen through the series you start to notice names cropping up again and again. Strange cults that appear everywhere. Instances of similar monsters or men. Beyond that, the episodes are peppered with the archivist interacting with his colleagues, uncovering mysteries and trying to solve them because the world might be about to end.
Overall, The Magnus Archives is a podcast that I highly recommend. The writing is excellent, the voice acting is nearly flawless, the sound effects are minimal but crucial in establishing the atmosphere, and it’s just a really, really good story. And for everyone that genuinely enjoys horror, fear not, because this podcast is filled with evil creatures and demons and cult rituals and things that go bump in the night. If you’re looking for a new podcast for your commute to school or to work, or even in your downtime, this is definitely one to give a listen to.
The Magnus Archives is a podcast written and produced by Rusty Quill, whose site can be found here. There are currently four seasons available to listen to!