kirlian frequency
"The Kirlian Frequency" will make you think twice about that semester abroad in Argentina. (Illustration by Claire Maske, Skidmore College)

Horror Fans Should Tune Into Netflix’s ‘The Kirlian Frequency’

This Argentinian animated horror anthology series offers an abundance of chilling tales.

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kirlian frequency

This Argentinian animated horror anthology series offers an abundance of chilling tales.

There is a city somewhere in Argentina that does not appear on any map. The roads to this city are a twisting maze, giving one the uncanny feeling that it does not want to be found. Yet, for those who somehow manage to find their way to the dark streets of the city known as Kirlian, a strange radio station plays on the airwaves all night long. Welcome to 96.6, “La Frecuencia Kirlian,” or “The Kirlian Frequency.”

The DJ knows every unusual thing that goes on in his city, including your recent arrival. He also, like of many of Kirlian’s residents, is no fan of outsiders. Dare you listen to what he has to say?

Created by Cristian Ponce, “The Kirlian Frequency” is an animated horror anthology dealing with the supernatural city of Kirlian, a magnet for the strange, the inexplicable and the absolutely terrifying.

While originally produced for Tangram Cinema and DECIMU Labs, “The Kirlian Frequency” has been available internationally on Netflix since 2017. Horror fans of all stripes now have access to a scarily impressive indie series that, while only five episodes long, packs enough terror, intrigue and suspense into each tale to warrant far more than one viewing.

Although every episode of “The Kirlian Frequency” features its own unique horror story, each is told using the same suitably creepy animation style. In the dark environment of Kirlian, characters appear as living silhouettes, almost like shadows moving on their own in the nighttime streets. The only visible part of their faces is their eyes, which take on a variety of hues, both natural and unnatural.

Unlike the other characters, the DJ hides his own eyes behind an inscrutable pair of glasses. When he does deign to show them, their blood-red hue makes it clear that he is something other than human.

The symbolic animation of “The Kirlian Frequency” is matched by equally meaningful voiceover work, which is done in a manner that privileges radio communication over regular speech. The DJ is given the predominant speaking role, with the voices of other characters appearing only through over-the-phone interviews and tape-recorded conversations.

It is thus only by the grace of Kirlian’s enigmatic watcher that the citizens of the city are granted a voice. Otherwise, characters speak in subtitles, their speech muffled and somehow less lifelike than that of the self-appointed narrator.

Of course, the DJ himself loses his voice whenever he goes off the air, emphasizing how integral his show is to his role as storyteller. Indeed, whomever the story focuses on, the DJ is forever present, ready to offer his thoughts on the matter at hand with his smooth, calm, deeply unnerving voice.

Perhaps the only thing creepier than the DJ is Kirlian itself, a city where all manner of strange things come out after dark. Mysterious beasts roam the woods and alleyways alike, while unidentified lights float overhead. Gangs of hoodlums with inhumanly green eyes stalk the streets on their motorcycles, looking for easy prey.

More dangerous still are those in a position of authority. The city’s council members are known practitioners of the black arts, meeting after sunset to plan their revenge against the young vandals loose in the streets. Anyone they spot making trouble will immediately feel their wrath; you might be turned into a tree, a rat or something far, far worse.

Then there are the ghosts, such as that of young Manuel Ramirez, who died over 20 years ago but whose killer was never found. It is best to avoid this vengeful spirit, for they say if he sees you, he will attempt to deceive you into thinking you were the one who ended his life.

But of all the strange beings found in Kirlian, perhaps the most unsettling is the creature that the DJ hides underneath his studio — a huge, eldritch thing with a single eye and plenty of tentacles, speaking in an alien language.

Perhaps the DJ brought it with him from wherever he came from; maybe it was always there, and the DJ merely befriended it. Whatever the case, the Lovecraftian beast seems very ancient, and likely not of this world.

Given the overt presence of the paranormal within Kirlian, one would think the average citizen would be at least somewhat aware of the unnatural forces surrounding their city. Certainly, it would make sense if most people were raised to accept the darker and more inexplicable elements of their home as a fact of life.

Yet, many in Kirlian are said to be willfully ignorant of the strange things that go on in their city. Most would prefer to live a life with some semblance of normalcy, rather than face the horrors which lurk just below the surface.

One character goes so far as to say that there are two versions of the city: the one people choose to see and the one many try to ignore.

Still, it is unwise to ignore the many signs and portents found throughout Kirlian. They say, for instance, that the arrival of a comet at the end of April signals the end of the world and that the apocalypse is right around the corner. Then again, if this proves true, even the DJ’s attempts to celebrate Christmas in April may do little to soothe the inevitable mass panic.

It all goes without saying, “The Kirlian Frequency” is likely one of the most bizarre horror shows to ever grace the screen. The titular city is filled with so many mysteries, so much weird phenomena and so few vestiges of what would be considered normal that the true horror might simply lie in attempting to take all of it in.

How could such a place as Kirlian exist? Where do the many horrors that roam its streets come from? Who is the DJ, and what are his true motives? Why is it so many residents are able to voluntarily ignore what goes on?

Few if any of these questions are ever answered, leaving it to the viewer to draw their own conclusions. Yet one thing is for certain: Kirlian is a city unlike any other, and the only way to learn more about it is to tune into “The Kirlian Frequency.”

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