Within the “expanded cinematic universe” age wherein we at present reside, we take as a right simply how onerous it’s to efficiently inform a narrative that spans a number of generations and weaves disparate items into one grand narrative. Many have tried, many have floundered. 

Anybody with such sprawling storytelling ambitions, nonetheless, might take a lesson from the horror anthology podcast Old Gods of Appalachia from Asheville, North Carolina’s DeepNerd Media. Launched in 2019, Previous Gods is an engrossing and otherworldly saga, set in an alternate model of Appalachia, the place the land is riddled with supernatural entities — so-called “haints” and whatnot — and the people who usually discover themselves tousled with them. After a good friend really useful it, I powered via all obtainable episodes in two weeks. 


DeepNerd Media

As of this writing, there are three seasons comprising greater than 40 free episodes (with much more for Patreon subscribers). What begins out as the story of a doomed coal city named Barlo, Kentucky, expands into an entire universe with narrative tentacles that attain again to 1756 and ahead nicely into the 1900s. The podcast’s penchant for nonlinear storytelling zips you backwards and forwards in time and offers you the sense there’s an infinite variety of individuals, and creatures, to fulfill in each holler the present visits. 

Possibly you spend three episodes with a small-town Justice of the Peace, or a younger couple that make a nasty deal, or a little bit boy whose household meets a grim destiny. You may depart these characters behind for a bit, however within the Previous Gods world, they often all get consumed again into the larger story in a masterful method. 

To this point, that larger story has grown to the tune of greater than 9 million downloads for the reason that present’s begin, in line with the Previous Gods web site. There’s additionally a role-playing recreation within the works, which shortly bypassed its $50,000-fundraising purpose on Kickstarter and is as much as greater than $2 million. The estimated launch date is March 2023.

Primal creepiness 

Then there’s the spooky stuff. Previous Gods gives a legion of darkish creepy issues, as previous because the land they hang-out — creatures that shapeshift, put on peoples’ skins and are so evil possibly you do not wish to know an excessive amount of extra about them. Some stroll among the many people within the present, some do not. However by some means, they at all times appear to be watching. 

For those who’ve ever checked out a darkish patch of forest and felt like there was one thing foreboding within the pines, that is the form of primal creepiness Previous Gods harnesses. You do not have to be from Previous Gods’ Appalachia to know that deep-seated uneasiness of darkish woods and secluded wilderness — that reality everyone knows on some stage that nature, if it actually needs to, can do us all in.

It is also via these historic baddies that the present explores the area’s difficult historical past with the coal and railroad industries. A mine collapse in the true world is horrifying sufficient, as are the long-term well being results of inhaling coal mud, or being trapped within the depths of debt to an organization. In Previous Gods, predatory coal firms just like the fictional Barrow & Locke that would go away the land and its individuals depleted aren’t only a byproduct of ravenous capitalism. They’re literal evil, and their minions are smooth-talking and clad in costly fits. The hollowing of the mountains and its miners are actual.

The bullies from Barrow & Locke would run totally unchecked if not for the ladies of Previous Gods — the grannies and the witches, just like the Walker sisters and the Underwoods, multi-generational households with plenty of spine and never solely a present for preventing evil, however the want to guard those that cannot do it themselves. 

Made in Appalachia

Among the finest elements of the present is that it truly comes from Appalachia. Appalachia runs alongside the japanese US, stretching up from elements of Alabama and Georgia, persevering with up via Japanese Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, via West Virginia and up into Pennsylvania and even a southern portion of New York. The present’s creators Steve Shell and Cam Collins hail from Virginia, a reduction when it is no secret media representations of the world can usually be misguided at finest, and harmful at worst (the 2018 documentary Hillbilly is a good dive into the injury wrought by stereotypes round poverty and lack of training).

Shell is the first voice on the podcast. Although he could also be speaking about creatures with glowing eyes and useless miners possessed by an evil from the mountains the place they died, his deep tones and {smooth} supply present some reassurance that nothing of that nature is coming for you so long as he is telling the story.  

Maybe most of all, there is a richness to the world of Previous Gods, a coziness regardless of the hazard, a satisfying fullness that may be in any other case tougher to create once you’re speaking about far-off galaxies and alternate dimensions. Previous Gods feels lived in, layered and refreshingly contained — even when the previous evil within the mountains is often about to bust free.  

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