More people must tune in to this thrilling series of horror anthologies

In an era of endless Marvel movies and sprawling fantasy prequels, it’s easy to take for granted how difficult it is to successfully tell a story that spans many generations and weaves seemingly disparate elements into one great narrative. Many have tried, many have gone astray.

However, anyone with such ambitious narrative ambitions can take a lesson from the Old Gods of Appalachia horror anthology podcast from Asheville, DeepNerd Media from North Carolina. Launched in 2019, Old Gods is an immersive saga from another world set in an alternate Appalachian version where the land is dotted with supernatural beings – so-called “haints” and so on – and people who are often entangled with them. After a friend recommended it, I looked through all the episodes available in two weeks.

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As of this writing, there are three seasons with over 40 free episodes (with even more Patreon subscribers). What begins as the tale of a doomed coal town called Barlo, Kentucky, spreads across a universe with narrative tentacles that go back to 1756 and go all the way back to the 20th century. The podcast’s love of non-linear storytelling takes you back in time and gives you the feeling that in every scream that visits the show, you can meet an infinite number of people and creatures.

Maybe you spend three episodes with a small town judge, a young couple making a bad deal, or a little boy whose family is suffering a bleak fate. You can leave these characters behind for a while, but in the Old God world they usually all get mastered back in the larger story.

So far, this bigger story has grown to over 9 million downloads since the show started, according to the Old Gods website. Work is also underway on a role-playing game, which quickly bypassed the $ 50,000 Kickstarter goal to more than $ 2 million. The estimated release date is March 2023.

Primary horror

Then there are ghastly things. Old Gods offers a legion of dark, creepy things as old as the land they haunt – creatures that change shape, wear human skins, and are so evil that you may not want to know too much about them. Some people walk around on the show, some don’t. But somehow they always seem to be watching.

If you’ve ever looked at a dark patch of forest and felt that there was something wrong with the pines, this is the kind of primal horror the Old Gods take advantage of. You don’t have to be from the Appalachian Old Gods to understand this deep-seated anxiety in the dark forests and secluded wilderness – the truth we all know at some level that nature, if it really wants to, can destroy us all.

It is also thanks to these ancient villains that the series explores the region’s intricate history with the coal and rail industries. The collapse of a mine in the real world is terrifying enough, as are the long-term health effects of inhaling coal dust or being trapped in an abyss of debt to the company. In Old Gods, predatory coal companies like the fictional Barrow and Locke that would leave the earth and exhaust its inhabitants are not just a byproduct of starving capitalism. They are literally angry and their minions are smooth-talking and clad in expensive suits. The hollows of the mountains and their miners are real.

The thugs at Barrow & Locke would have fled completely out of control if it weren’t for the women of the Old Gods – grandmothers and witches like the Walker and Underwoods sisters, extended families with lots of backbone and more to fight. evil, but the desire to protect those who cannot do it themselves.

Made in Appalachia

One of the best parts about the show is that it is actually Appalachian. Appalachia runs along the eastern US states, stretching from parts of Alabama and Georgia, through eastern Tennessee, Kentucky, and Ohio, through West Virginia, to Pennsylvania and even southern New York. The creators of the series Steve Shell and Cam Collins are from Virginia, which is a relief when it’s not a secret media coverage of the area that can often be wrong at best and destructive at worst (the 2018 documentary Hillbilly is a great dive into the damage. caused by stereotypes around poverty and lack of education).

Shell is the main voice of the podcast. While he may speak of creatures with glowing eyes and dead miners possessed by the evil of the mountains where they died, his deep tones and flowing messages give some confidence that nothing of this nature is coming. you as long as it tells the story.

Perhaps most of all there is the richness of the Old Gods world, a cosiness despite the danger, a satisfying fullness that might otherwise be more difficult to create when we talk about distant galaxies and alternative dimensions. The old gods feel inhabited, layered, and refreshingly closed – even if the old evil in the mountains is usually about to break free.

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