In an age of countless Marvel films and sweeping fantasy prequels, it is easy to take as a right how difficult it’s to efficiently inform a narrative that spans a number of generations and weaves seemingly disparate items collectively into one grand narrative. Many have tried, many have floundered. 

Anybody with such sprawling storytelling ambitions, nevertheless, may take a lesson from the horror anthology podcast Old Gods of Appalachia from Asheville, North Carolina’s DeepNerd Media. Launched in 2019, Outdated Gods is an engrossing and otherworldly saga, set in an alternate model of Appalachia, the place the land is riddled with supernatural entities — so-called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 snarled with them. After a pal really useful it, I powered by way of all accessible episodes in two weeks. 

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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 properly into the 1900s. The podcast’s penchant for nonlinear storytelling zips you backwards and forwards in time and provides you the sense there’s an infinite variety of folks, and creatures, to fulfill in each holler the present visits. 

Perhaps 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 You would possibly depart these characters behind for a bit, however within the Outdated Gods world, they often all get consumed again into the larger story in a masterful manner. 

To date, 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story has grown to the tune of greater than 9 million downloads for the reason that present’s begin, in line with the Outdated Gods web site. There’s additionally a role-playing recreation within the works, which rapidly bypassed its $50,000-fundraising aim 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. Outdated Gods gives a legion of darkish creepy issues, as previous because the land they hang-out — creatures that shapeshift, put on peoples’ skins and are so evil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 need to know an excessive amount of extra about them. Some stroll among the many people within the present, some do not. However in some way, they at all times appear to be watching. 

When you’ve ever checked out a darkish patch of forest and felt like there was one thing foreboding within the pines, that is the type of primal creepiness Outdated Gods harnesses. You do not have to be from Outdated 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 by way of 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 Outdated Gods, predatory coal firms just like the fictional Barrow & Locke that would depart the land and its folks 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 fully unchecked if not for the ladies of Outdated Gods — the grannies and the witches, just like the Walker sisters and the Underwoods, multi-generational households with quite a lot 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 components of the present is that it truly comes from Appalachia. Appalachia runs alongside the japanese US, stretching up from components of Alabama and Georgia, persevering with up by way of Jap Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, by way of 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 realm 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 schooling).

Shell is the first voice on the podcast. Although he could also be speaking about creatures with glowing eyes and lifeless 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 Outdated Gods, a coziness regardless of the hazard, a satisfying fullness that may be in any other case tougher to create while you’re speaking about far-off galaxies and alternate dimensions. Outdated 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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