Network: Amazon Prime Video
Air Date: October 13th, 2017
I’ll be honest right from the very beginning: I’ve been an avid fan of Aaron Mahnke’s podcast, Lore, since its start in 2015. However, when I heard that the podcast would eventually be turned into a TV show for Amazon I was excited yet unsure. After quickly consuming all 6 episodes, I can assure you that this is a spooky, yet educational, way to spend an October evening. Or, really, any evening for that matter.
Lore is an anthology that focuses on the more mysterious, terrifying side of history. Mahnke takes some of the most iconic monster myths, folklore, and macabre history from all over the world and digs down their origins. He not only focuses on these myths and legends but really gets down to the heart and how these stories came to be. The show covers everything from werewolves to scary dolls, lobotomies to faeries, and even covers the blurred line of superstition and medicine.
One thing that immediately sets Lore apart is the way they visually tell their stories. Its use of stunningly dark animation mixed with stock footage and dramatic retellings really make the stories come to life. Each episode has a subtly different mood that is portrayed excellently through these different avenues of depiction. For example, the last episode, “Unboxed”, focuses on the Island of Dolls and Robert the Doll, a haunted doll owned by painter Robert Eugene Otto. The bright, fluid animation in the beginning of the episode prepares the viewer for the childhood nightmares brought to life throughout the rest of the tale. This sets Lore on a level all its own when it comes to other shows that might tell the same type of stories.
Another example of the fabulous use of animation in Lore comes from the episode, “The Beast Within”. And yes; if you guessed werewolves, you’d be right. The black and white animation tells the tale of Saint Patrick as he visits a group of villagers that worship the wolf. Patrick’s loneliness and fear can be felt through the animation, and the violence that unfolds is only made worse by the lack of color.
However, the episode, “Echoes”, which focuses on the doctor who invented the icepick lobotomy, is truly brought to life by the stock footage used in this tale. By the end, the audience truly understands the horrific ways mental illness was treated just within the past 100 years. Or even “Black Stockings” that tells the frightening tale of changelings and Bridget Cleary. For me, the true terror of these episodes lie in the poor treatment of mental illness, or even the lack thereof, with such violent methods. All of Mahnke’s episodes play with the idea that despite our advances in technology and science, human beings really aren’t that different from those who came before us. And we still greatly fear those things which we don’t understand.
Anyone who listens to the podcast will tell you that there is a magic to Aaron Mahnke’s voice. I have never been more relaxed while listening to ghastly tales from the past due to his narration. Combined with his own engaging writings, it is impossible not to get sucked into the stories of Lore. It isn’t often that shows with these themes can be frightening while still remaining educational, but that is one of Mahnke’s greatest strengths. These fascinating tales not only teach us about our past and the myths and folklores that keep us up at night, but we also learn something about ourselves and human beings in general.
From witches to being buried alive, from mental illness to the animalistic rage that lives within every single one of us, Aaron Mahnke’s Lore covers these topics with a horrifying grace that will keep you glued to your screen in fascinated terror. While he covers the stories of the past, it is almost impossible not to see the parallel between them and our modern society. Which, arguably, could be the scariest thing of all. This anthology is something that can’t be missed by horror buffs, history nuts, or those looking for something new entirely.
Lore is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video exclusively, and we can only hope to hear news of a second season soon. But, if you can’t wait until then, Mahnke’s podcast by the same name releases every other week on Mondays. It is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, RadioPublic, or on the Lore website.
Verdict: The television adaptation of Aaron Mahnke’s podcast, Lore, is something that fans, new and old, will enjoy. This anthology series focuses on macabre history and folklore from all over the world. Because of its fantastic writing, interesting and engaging visuals and dramatizations, and Mahnke’s own narration, Lore is the perfect way to spend a spooky evening while learning something new all at the same time!
- Fantastic storytelling
- Excellent mix of animation, stock footage, and dramatization
- Mahnke's narration
- I wish there were more episodes!