Magnus Archives
You don't need jump scares to get a thrill from horror. (Illustration by Xingzhou Cheng, Fashion Institute of Technology)

‘The Magnus Archives’ Brings a New Approach to the Horror Genre

Even without frightening visuals, this horror podcast immerses you into an unforgettable story.

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Magnus Archives

Even without frightening visuals, this horror podcast immerses you into an unforgettable story.

If you are looking for a scare or an excuse to mess up your sleep schedule, the horror genre may be right for you. Even non-horror themed fanatics, such as I, need a few healthy scares throughout our lifetimes — but for those who need something a little easier on the heart, podcasts like “The Magnus Archives” can do just that.

What is “The Magnus Archives”?

“The Magnus Archives,” home to numerous horror stories, is a great option for those who want that “feeling of dread” so often found in horror movies without the visual experience. With updates every Thursday at 4 p.m. UK time, listeners have the opportunity to come back weekly for a fresh tale. In between seasons, however, the cast takes a break for a couple of weeks before returning with a new season that is as scary and immersive as the last.

To summarize, “The Magnus Archives” follows Jonathan Sims, the new head Archivist appointed to the Magnus Institute, and his journey to organize the abandoned case files of supernatural sightings left behind by his predecessor, Gertrude Robinson, who had presumably passed away. Sims makes it his task to convert each traditionally archived file into an audio recording and update whoever is listening with the details of those files — in this case, the audience.

RustyQuill, the director and producer, alongside Jonathan Sims, the writer of “The Magnus Archives” and the voice actor of the Archivist himself, does a wonderful job including their listeners into the larger overarching plot. Although fictional, everything from the static-y audio effects — effects one might produce by talking into an old recorder — to the amazing intonation from all the characters, can make one believe that they are listening to an authentic, real-life tape file.

Even without any visuals to accompany the script, “The Magnus Archives” proves that the proper audio can induce the same haunting dread that a show or movie can. The background instrumentals along with the sound effects also give the listener the full engaging experience.

With five seasons and over 150 episodes, those new to the podcast will have a lot of different stories to listen to. Each audio case file has around 20 minutes of pure storytelling, so if longer tales are your preference, then “The Magnus Archives” easily fits the criteria. While each episode features its own plot, there are leaks of the “main” story that revolve around Sims, his archiving team and the Magnus Institute. To those looking for a podcast to get lost in, I encourage people — not only those into the horror genre but those who want something immersive but less visual — to give this one a try.

As someone who does not look into the visual side of horror often and gets easily terrified by jump scares, this podcast gave me the opportunity to experience the genre in its finest form. Although the first episode, “Anglerfish,” was released in March 2016, I only recently found out about it after browsing through Spotify for some podcast recommendations. After a brief glance at the stunning yet simplistic cover art that came into my view, I was immediately intrigued. A lot of outside hype surrounded the podcast, and it received awards such as best arts podcast nominee for Podcast Awards 2016 and winner for best audio drama or fiction podcast in 2019. These awards are well-deserved.

With an abundance of horror stories to binge through, “The Magnus Archives” provides another source of entertainment for both horror lovers and newcomers alike. Start with the first season and slowly (or quickly) make your way toward the end. You will not regret it.

Horror Genre: Perks and Recommendations

According to Time Magazine, “the heart-pounding thrills of a scary movie may come with some health-related benefits, including a calorie burn and a happier mood.” Although one may associate horror movies with bad stress, some researchers disagree.

“It might be simpler to think of horror movies as a form of ‘good stress.’ While stress gets a bad rap—and long-term stress is associated with everything from depression to heart attacks—brief bouts of stress have often been linked to improved immune function and activation.”

The same logic can also be applied to podcasts, especially if listened to at night. Along with “The Magnus Archives,” many other podcasts also offer the same level of scares. Some other recommendations include “Scare You to Sleep,” a horror podcast with a similarly immersive experience where the narrator adds appropriate sound effects and reads in a siren’s voice; “Welcome To Night Vale,” a podcast that revolves around the town of Night Vale and the spooky occurrences that happen there; and “The Black Tapes,” which features an investigator who wants to demystify the existence of the supernatural.

These are only a few options among many others; however, these do give a good glimpse into some horror-themed podcasts. “The Magnus Archives,” in particular, remains one of the best due to Jonathan Sim’s interesting character and storytelling skills. Every word keeps the listener on their toes and that feeling of dread lingers behind even after the end of each episode.

For all those new to podcasts, current horror fanatics who are looking for more quality content or those who want to give the horror genre a shot, the Magnus Institute has its doors open for you. Who knows? Perhaps you will find yourself seeking more of the mysteries that lurk in the shadows.

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