Today is the launch date of the new, limited-run podcast, Aaron Mahnke’s 13 Days of Halloween. After listening to the premiere episode, “The Entrance,” I am already firmly hooked.
The podcast might be best described as a combination of old-time radio drama and anthology series. It is set in the fictional Hawthorne Manor–an “architectural anomaly” designed by a madman, and a quintessential Gothic abode featuring (as “The Entrance” teases) a legendary hidden doorway. The place now stands as a remote hotel populated by strange guests, one of whom is introduced each night by the creepy, narrative-framing Caretaker (affectedly voiced by Keegan-Michael Key). The episodes are recorded in 3-D binaural audio, so the listener (cast as a new arrival at the manor) enjoys an immersive experience, complete with hissing rain and howling wind in the background. When the Caretaker introduces you to the storyteller, who recounts his dark tale (in dramatic monologue style) with you supposedly sitting in the same room, the proceedings take on the air of dreadful confessional. Today’s guest/speaker, Soren, shares a narrative of paranoid doomsday-prepping and family dysfunction, one that has a sinister twist.
So many of the traditional Halloween rituals are likely to be spoiled this year by the COVID-19 pandemic, but this clever podcast promises to make the holiday season enjoyable nonetheless. For the rest of October, listeners can relish staying home, as they put on a pair of headphones, dim the lights, and soak up some wonderful autumn atmosphere.