The Cambridge Geek

American Comedy Horror Story: Orphanage

Claire and Olivia are mediums, who have been brought in to help deal with the ghosts circulating around a creepy old building. They've not been there long when they start receiving messages from a (presumably dead) boy, William, who is desperate for their help. One Ouija board session later, and the pair find themselves thrown into disaster.

The house shakes, the earth drops from beneath them, and a maelstrom of chaotic energy smashes through the pair, knocking them unconscious. When they finally come round, they discover that they're back in the 19th Century, in the orphanage that housed William. One quick change into corsets later, they're ready to begin investigating what threatened his life and if they can stop it now that they're in the past.

The orphanage is run by a Miss Beatrice, who can't quite explain why so many children seem to keep dying, other than that consumption is quite a serious problem, you know. Then there's the local priest, a rather aged man, with a painfully slow voice, and the local village idiot, who can only communicate in charades. Balancing them all is William, who is creepy in that way only historical children can be.

The acting is good, and the soundscape is decent, but I found the story somewhat lacking in this. While Claire and Olivia are fairly well-rounded characters, with some fun back and forth dialogue, they felt annoyingly passive. The plot mostly progressed by them watching another death and trying to do a bit of talking with someone about what was going on. It never felt like they drove the plot.

Around this, there's potentially a lot more of a world that could have been explored. Many tiny fragments are seen (the difficult relationship between Beatrice and the priest, the manner in which the mediums end up back in the past, the social structure of people coming to the orphanage to "see if there's anything we'd like"), but these aren't developed. Instead, the plot sticks closely to Olivia and Claire's investigation, and it just isn't that thrilling.

One to give a try, and it's certainly short enough that it's not a massive time sink, but I won't be re-visiting.

Score 3

Tagged: Audio fiction Dramedy Cast Dramatised Horror Serial