By Brandon Scott on April 13th, 2022
Before listening to The Storage Papers, I never thought a podcast could scare me as much as The Magnus Archives. That the mind-melting, the dark-is-dangerous thrill it gave me was the peak of horror storytelling.
But The Storage Papers is not only just as scary, but it also has a lot of the same appeal. In anthology podcasts, there’s the concept of the “meta-narrative.” It’s a plot running alongside the individual stories. In The Magnus Archives, it’s the rising of eldritch gods. In The Storage Papers, it’s a complicated conspiracy.
(Warning: the videos below are pieces of horror; listener discretion is advised.)
And this difference also informs the slight change in flavor. Both podcasts contain cosmic horror, but The Storage Papers has a more visceral, found footage feel. The horror goes for the throat once it’s built tension, often relying on disturbing ideas more than implications. By episode five, we’ve had child death, animal death, and dismemberment. We also hear a lot more disturbing content.
This is because of one strict upgrade between season one of Magnus and season one of The Storage Papers. There are lots of sound effects in The Storage Papers, both semi-diegetic and mood-setters. By the end of episode one, a baby crying is terrifying, and episode five shows how upsetting ice cream truck music can be. I’m unsure if this is simply because of a budget or workforce difference, but the added radio play elements make for an intense and enjoyable listening experience.
The writing is where my praise starts being less clear-cut. This is quite subjective, but Magnus’ language felt better. It used fewer unnecessary words and didn’t overexplain. The Storage Paper’s scripts sometimes feel like they could use one more edit.
Now, I’ll acknowledge this could be a stylistic choice because of the before-mentioned found footage format. Most episodes are police reports or interviews—which wouldn’t have as elegant language. The only time The Storage Papers wants to be artsy is in its intros, which slightly break the flow. But our narrator, Jeremy, is putting on an affectation for the in-universe podcast, so it at least makes narrative sense for it to be that way.
The one negative critique I have without caveats is the series wavers in tone and subject. I’ve looked at some spoilers (only listened through episode six) and not only does the subgenre shift multiple times, but episodes aren’t always even horror stories. Two so far have been more Twilight Zone than pure horror. The first of those even introduces time travel to the series way earlier than you’d expect. Variety can keep things unpredictable sure, but when taking the time to listen to a podcast, it’s nice to know what you’re getting. I understand it’s probably necessary for the meta-narrative that oddball topics be explored early on, but it makes binging the series awkward. The momentum deflates when an overconfident magician claiming to use real magic is in the episode after a tale of murdered children. There’s a chance, however, that this is simply the podcast not yet finding its footing and things could level out as it goes.
But even when it’s scattershot, The Storage Papers is an enjoyable podcast. It knows how to build suspense, intrigue, and mystery. And when it wants to, it can pay off rising tension with creative monsters, disturbing descriptions, and chilling sound cues. If you, like me, needed a new nightmare, then The Storage Papers might just become your next obsession.
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