If you’re the kind of person who watches anything remotely scary through the lens of your interlaced fingers held over your eyes, then “The Black Tapes Podcast” will scare the shit out of you, in the best way possible. It’s a “Serial”-esque docudrama investigation into various paranormal disturbances, led by an endearingly earnest reporter, Alex Reagan, who just wants to get to the bottom of these creepy mysteries.
Billed originally as a profile of paranormal investigator Dr. Richard Strand, the story takes a turn for the spOOOoooOoky when Reagan starts to look into the mysterious Black Tapes — a collection of unsolved cases that even Strand can’t debunk. Using testimony from witnesses and interviews with experts, the podcast is so convincing that you almost think it’s real, but don’t be fooled, as I was: the whole thing is really well-executed docudrama, a modern-day War Of The Worlds that’s just scary enough to convince you that it might be real.
The show’s creators, Paul Bae and Terry Miles, do a fantastic job. They use the nuances and hallmarks of self-important, navel-gazing public radio drama to full effect: the earnest reporter; the haltingly-read monologues; sound effects and music; and quirky-enough “experts.” All the things that might have grated you about Sarah Koenig’s dogged obsession last year are present in “The Black Tapes Podcast,” but dialed up to eleven. Listening to it at first without knowing that it’s fiction was almost enough to make me swear off serialized podcasts and NPR for the rest of my life — that’s how pitch-perfect it is.
Sadly, I did not realize this show was fake last night, when I was listening to it as I cleaned my house. “Oh, thats really scary,” I said out loud, as my cat stared intently at the corner of the room, spooked for no reason. When I got a full-body chill after the final scene of the first episode, I shut it off, opened my bedroom door and turned the TV on, letting an episode of “Property Brothers” replace the nightmare scenario in my head with subway tile backsplash.
If you can hang with the stuff that goes bump in the night — or even if you can’t, like me — give this podcast a shot.[The Black Tapes Podcast]
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