The Pod Nod: Darkest Night is Horror Done Right!

Darkest Night is a genuinely terrifying podcast that is not for the faint of heart. Set in the fictional Roth-Lobdow Center for Advanced Research, Project Cyclops is the stuff of nightmares. Audiences follow along with Katie Reed, a twenty-something-year-old lab assistant who is quietly taping the goings-ons of the Center.

What and why is she taping her research? The why comes out during the course of the first season, but then what is clear from the get-go. Project Cyclops is a program that has Katie drawing blood from the optic nerve of severed heads in order to access the last moments before the subject’s death. Like I said, it’s not a podcast for the faint of heart – or the squeamish. Each episode introduces a new subject and a new death story, bookended by Katie’s conversations with Dr. John Kinsler, the soon-to-retire scientist heading the research.

Season one is ten episodes long, with most episodes clocking in under the half an hour mark, and wraps everything up nicely. The thing to keep in mind, when Katie begins each recording, is that every episode is one day at the Center. Shit gets real fast and season two, which debuted May 29 and is releasing new episodes on a weekly basis, delves further into the madness. Right now, the podcast is the perfect storm of bingeable and new content without having to wait!

The caliber of the voice acting alone is enough of a reason to tune into Darkest Night. Lee Pace is the narrator that sets the horrifying scenes for listeners. Denis O’Hare is the voice of Dr. Kinsler and is probably the other most-recognizable recurring name. Brynn Langford, who voices Kate, and Callie Schuttera, who voices Vivian Lobdow, are also spectacular. The nature of a new story each episode means the voices change as well, but the entire cast is great.

Couple the voice acting with the binaural sound recording and expect a lot of surprised flinching. Definitely, wear headphones for this podcast! If I had a dollar for every time I was listening to Darkest Night and I thought someone was briskly walking up behind me, I’d be like $15 richer at this point. Sounds often hit in one ear or the other and it makes the experience of listening to the podcast feel that much more encompassing. Plus the whispering

Shudder subscribers get the next episode of the podcast a week earlier than regular listeners without the ads and for superfans, they’ve even got a shop on their site. Each script can also be found on their website, which makes for an entertaining read for anyone interested in podcast scripts or scripts in general.

Spodlight On:

Seriously, I have had to pause so many times because I think someone is walking up behind me. I jump every time.

I binged the entire first and what’s been released of the second season in two days. If you tried hard, you really could catch up within one workday – provided you don’t have a heart attack first.

It’s not a podcast for everyone, I’ll admit that right now. Definitely, don’t try eating while listening and maybe if you’re sensitive to the sounds of people dying… skip this one?

That goddamn song in the second episode is stupid and stupidly catchy. I hate it. I’m singing it right now. Caleb’s alive, searching for his mother’s love.

Kiiiiiiilll youuuuu has become commonplace in my texting and speech. I’m so sorry to the friends I’ve still got.

Season two introduced theme music for each episode and it is also stupid and stupidly catchy. Really the music is dumb, but it’s such a light way to start a heavy podcast that I appreciate it every time.

Wasn’t Lee Pace enough to draw you in? What if I said RuPaul is also a voice actor somewhere in the first season?

After you binge the first season, don’t skip out on the season one recap song from Jonathan Mann of Songanauts and Song a Day. I don’t know why there are so many songs, nor do I apologize for liking them all.

So. Much. Whispering.

There will be a lot of asking yourself, “What the hell is going on???” as you listen, but the first season does all tie together nicely at the end. I have high hopes season two will be able to maintain that quality storytelling.

Listen at: iTunes | Soundcloud | Shudder