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Like so many other people who have joined the cult following of the British horror fiction podcast The Magnus Archives, I discovered it because I was tired of waiting for Limetown. I blew through the latter's short first season years ago, and by 2018 I needed a new horror audio fix. A friend pointed me in the direction of The Magnus Archives, a podcast by a production company called Rusty Quill, and I found myself hooked almost instantly — so much so that I only recently found out that the second season of Limetown finally dropped a whole year ago.
The Magnus Archives takes a format that will be familiar to Limetown fans— that of a researcher dictating their investigations into the macabre — and then blows it up into a vast horror epic. The series is (mostly) told from the perspective of Jonathan Sims (a character, but also the IRL performer and writer of the series), who serves as head archivist of the fictional Magnus Institute. The Institute has existed for centuries and is dedicated, as far as we know, to documenting encounters ordinary folks have with the paranormal. It's in the process of digitizing the hundreds of thousands of statements in its archive, so each episode takes the form of Sims dictating a story transcription into his trusty recorder.
Be warned, the stories are not for the faint of heart and are often legitimately horrifying, but the show doesn't resort to cheap gimmicks like jump scares or music cues to direct your adrenaline. Instead, the stories tend to draw from real-life fears and anxieties. You'll encounter the occasional walking mannequin or vampire, but the statements given at the Magnus Institute tend to revolve instead around the familiar becoming unfamiliar: a mysterious door appearing in your home; a box being left at your door with explicit instructions not to open it; your neighbor being replaced by a person who looks nothing like them and nobody seems to notice.
It's scary stuff and best consumed in small doses when you start, lest you start to feel the eyes of strangers on the back of your neck and the certainty that you left your closet door closed when you were last home.
All that being said, the dopest thing about The Magnus Archives is the moment you realize the sheer volume of storytelling Sims has put into the project since it launched in March of 2016. As of this writing, 160 episodes have been recorded, meaning that over the past two and a half years, Sims has written 160 short horror stories that connect to form a sprawling cosmic horror epic.
As the show has grown in popularity, the team behind it (Sims works with a close group of friends who produce and often star in the show alongside him) has started to take slightly more significant breaks between seasons (the Season 4 finale went live on October 30, and the show is already announced as returning on sometime in 2020), but for the most part this guy has cranked out a great horror story and put together a fully produced recording of it once a week for the past two and a half years.
You'd think that measure of quantity on such a tight series of deadlines would decrease the quality, but you'd be wrong. If anything, the show only gets better as it moves along.
The Magnus Archives? It's dope. Utterly dope. You've got plenty of time to get caught up on it in time for the fifth season's premiere in January. You can listen to it on iTunes.