new podcast: Mordeo

One month after two brothers disappear in the Monongahela Forest, the lone survivor of the pair emerges starving, disoriented, and traumatized. While attempting to re-establish a normal life, the harrowing events from the woods continue to haunt him–and his darkest secret threatens to turn him into the very monster he believed he had fled.

What was the last podcast you listened to with zero narration? Every ensemble thing I’ve caught has a talk radio mockumentary angle, or a found footage podcast format, or cassette accumulating archivists… just some kind of way to convey more to the audience than the characters themselves are aware of in the moment. There was an curmudgeonly “what’s the deal with” kinda post on r/audiodrama recently, bemoaning this tendency with a smattering of all caps, wondering if podcasting’s propensity for meta formats might be symptomatic of millennial sensitivity and self-absorption. I think the answer’s a little more prosaic: in a story without visuals or narration the soundtrack and dialogue have to do a lot of heavy lifting.

Mordeo is all about this, and leans into a conversational style that’s dripping with exposition and buttery foreshadowing. It’s an endearingly earnest and undeniably effective approach to storytelling. Propulsive even it’s quieter moments, and managing to fit a lot of detail into a pretty lean episode count. It took a minute to ease myself into that slightly Hallmark, slightly Resident Evil style of loaded dialogue, but I was fully onboard after about half an episode. Sticking with this one.

You can find a trailer and the first couple of episodes here.

the true crime dilemma

Halfway through adding the bulk of the links, and I’m taking a break at Let’s Not Meet. I’ve been wanting to do literally anything else for a while, and hashing out what I think counts as horror seems like a pretty productive way to procrastinate. So…

I haven’t listened to the podcast (yet!), but I know the sub the stories are taken from… the better posts there are genuinely some of the scariest content on Reddit. Still, I think they’re on the cusp of being something other than horror, on account of being ostensibly real encounters. The focus on near misses and what might have been is what brings me around. A defining quality of horror is that it’s cathartic. Taking power from ambient anxieties, and implications that, however uncomfortable, resonate because they’re universal. From the bleakest Bryan Bertino film to the most nihilistic Thomas Ligotti story, horror necessarily gives relatable forms to fears; a reassuring flip side to whatever awful thing we’re taking in. And bringing it back to LNM, whilst horror deals in truths, the victims are hypothetical. Nobody’s actually getting hurt. It’s an attenuated vaccine: fear without sadness. The distressingly close calls of Let’s Not Meet fit the bill.

This is, of course, a really subjective take. I want to err on the side of not imposing my own tastes on people, so things that straddle genres are in. Like, Lore might do episodes on HH Holmes and the Hinterkaifeck murders, but it’s not every episode that you have to reckon with actual tragedy, so it’s listed. If, like me, you’re kinda uncomfortable with this sort of stuff, keep an eye on the tags. “true crime” and “non-fiction” are a couple I’ll be especially diligent with.