The Allure of Lore

Aaron Mahnke’s popular podcast Lore has grown into a multimedia phenomenon, recently expanding into a book series and a six-episode anthology series streaming on Amazon Prime. It is this televisual incarnation that I would like to briefly address here, focusing on its various attractions.

What do viewers get beyond the merely auditory experience of the podcast? For starters, there is some incredibly creepy animation on display (both in the show’s title sequence and within the episodes themselves), presenting unconventional imagery worthy of Charles Addams, Edward Gorey, or Tim Burton. Interspersed photos and video clips meanwhile add an arresting realism to the proceedings, providing glimpses of crime scenes or outre events (e.g. the radio-broadcast attempt to contact Harry Houdini via seance).

The episodes’ most distinctive feature, though, is their use of dramatic reenactments. These creations have all the haunting atmosphere, jolting scares, and production value of a full-length horror film. Fans of Magic or Annabelle are sure to squirm delightfully when watching the story of Key West’s legendary malevolent doll Robert (a figure who makes Chucky look like Strawberry Shortcake).

The dramatizations are also expertly paced, as they build to moments of heightened suspense and then cut away to the narrating Mahnke’s insightful commentary or segue into interpolated coverage of related topics/stories. One thing thankfully missing here, it should be noted, is the podcast’s breakaway to commercials, with Mahnke spending considerable time hawking sponsored products.

The Amazon series might not be well-suited for binge watching; smaller, periodic bites are apt to be relished most. A pattern does emerge, though, when the episodes are screened in close sequence. Again and again, we witness people, driven by desperation or derangement, commit disturbing acts against their closest and most beloved kin. While Lore (which deals in witches and werewolves, revenants and changelings) more than slakes viewers’ thirst for knowledge of the macabre and offbeat, it also serves to remind us that the most frightening monsters are those that hide within the human psyche.

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