The Blackwood Bugman. A local urban legend, perfect for a podcast, that will allow Molly Weaver to make her name, and gain some of that sweet sweet stamp and underwear sponsorship. And even easier, it's the legend closest to her home, living in the small town of Blackwood. But she'll need a couple of co-hosts, so acquires the assistance of Bryan Anderson and Nathan Howell.
Nathan is new to the town, but his family aren't. His grandfather, prior to the onset of severe dementia that brought Nathan and his mother back to the town, was the mayor, and everyone remembers him fondly. Bryan on the other hand is part of the Anderson empire, which owns a significant portion of both the land and the companies of the town. Molly is from more improverished stock, and has a chip on her shoulder about it.
They're all interested in what people think about the local legend, and hope to get their first episode out of the conversations they have with passersby about how they were scared as children by this spooky story.
Unfortunately, it would appear that the Bugman isn't as legendary as it appears. They quickly realise that a worrying number of people have gone missing over the years, and the townsfolk have a fair few suspicions about what might have happened.
What follows is several episodes of encroaching paranoia, as they investigate the possibility of a serial killer, a very closeknit community club and the weird insignia of an insect that keeps turning up everywhere.
Nicely, this has a few different threads to the tale. It's all seen through another framing story, someone making a podcast out of the fragments of story the original trio recorded. These lay out the breakdown of the team of three, as they each have their own corners to defend. Bryan is worried that the investigation will damage his family's reputation. Nathan is finding out his grandfather might not have been the great figure he'd been left to believe. And Molly wants to prove her worth.
The early footage is all very Blair Witch, and is very cool with it. There's a lot of subtle things wrong with the town, and small bits of story they discover. And the interpersonal conflicts add some nice tension to the story, as they begin to find out more about the people in their lives. It has a lovely "there's something wrong in the village" feeling, reminiscent of an Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.
However, this is undercut by the framing story, which tends to be the least interesting component, with a certain amount of "wrap-up" that feels a little forced. The story is info-dumped to some extent in the sixth episode, with the foregone conclusion of the first investigation getting a bit more of a play out than it perhaps needed. There's also a final moment that was delivered in a way that stole some of its power for me.
Something that I've not seen before, and his does quite well though is the "bonus content". The website contains various images and snippets of newspaper ostensibly from the investigation. That's quite fun. All in all, it's got a very promising start, but doesn't quite pay it off.
Tagged: Audio fiction Horror Cast Found footage Horror Serial