Statement of Aidan O’Reilly, Editor and Writer for Medium Magazine, regarding thoughts and opinions about the nature of fear and the sinister happenings of The Magnus Archives podcast, produced by Rusty Quill. Statement given direct from subject, 21st of March, 2022. Statement begins.
Up until very recently in my life I was never particularly interested in or fond of horror. It was always too frightening, too scary. Why people would intentionally scare themselves by either watching, listening or reading horror was beyond me. What was there to be found in being unsettled and made to confront something that will leave you having nightmares for days to come? Then, around a year ago I found The Magnus Archives, an episodic horror fiction podcast regarding the secret that lies at the heart of the infamous Magnus Institute. An academic body dedicated to studying and investigating the weird and esoteric. Through this mystery I was compelled to sit down and listen in order to get to the heart of this mystery. And I heard the fear, the terror, the nightmare of each episode and began to appreciate and love the series for the horror.
The heart of the horror lies with the first-hand account statements made by people recounting their experience with the paranormal and weird. Trapped within each statement is a hauntingly uncomfortable recollection of moments and events leading up to the moment and then the moment itself. All read aloud to us, the audience, by the Archivist of the Magnus Institute, Jonathan Sims. Sims himself is new to the job following the disappearance of the previous Archivist, Gertrude Robinson, and is left with the task of organising the archives, following the disrepair and lack of proper filing.
Accompanying Sims is his team of research assistants, Martin, Tim and Sasha, who assist him in organising and cataloguing the statements and carrying out investigations into each one. These investigations feature at the end of each statement, providing additional information that reframes the context of the statement into something far more sinister. Although initially sceptical and dismissive of these statements and accounts, Sims’ cynicism begins to crack under the growing presence of a threat from within the archives itself.
Returning to the content of the statements discussed within the series, there is an element to them that really struck a chord with me and my feelings towards horror. This element is reflected in the series’ tagline; “face your fear”. A very simple aspect, but executed well. One of the reasons I could never really get into horror was that it never felt personal. Yes, I was scared, and yes, I was uncomfortable. But in a way that revolted me and made me feel disgusted. And though there is no small shortage of that in The Magnus Archives, it was the first product that touched on one of my personal fears, my nightmares.
Without just listing all the many things that I am scared of, I will admit to Episode 88 of the series, Tucked In, being one of the episodes that will still give me the occasional nightmare. Sims holds nothing back in the description and events of each statement, with each feeling like some living nightmare that you have just happened to stumble into. The intimate nature of the core fears of each episode makes the distance we generally associate with the paranormal feel much smaller and much closer. As if the thing itself is right behind you. Watching.
I was brought face-to-face with my own fears and forced to look them in the eyes.
The intimacy of the statements themselves and the proximity to my own fears did something else that I had not expected when I started listening to the show. It made me face my fears in a very literal sense. There was no barrier between me and the terror I was being subjected to. Nothing to protect me from the very real fears I have and must live with. Through the show I was brought face-to-face with my own fears and forced to look them in the eyes. I was made to see the things that terrify me the most in life and admit those things to myself. Acknowledge them for what they are. Am I always able to overcome them? No. But I now know of them and of the harm that feeding them does to me.
The Nature Of Fear
If there is a primary antagonist of the series it is fear. All the things that creep, and crawl, and slither and otherwise go bump in the night are the consequence of our fears. Of us letting fear be the thing that controls us. The series is not afraid to discuss the real-world ramifications and consequences that stem as a byproduct of fear. And in the damage and harm it does to the people and things that fear is directed at.
That irrational fear we fabricate towards the things that are unknown or unexplained to us is able to hurt others in a very real way. Fear is not simply an antagonist or an enemy to be overcome in the final battle, it is something that is in every sense evil. Something that should be despised and rejected in all of its forms as an entity only ever capable of taking, never giving. Succumbing to fear or creating fear yourself will only ever hurt you, and eventually consume your very being.
To let fear be the only thing in your life – that is not natural.
However, you should not feel that being afraid is wrong, or something we should never be. Fear is natural and there are plenty of things to be scared of. But to let fear be the only thing in your life – that is not natural. So, if you have the time, listen to The Magnus Archives. Hear the statements. And face your fears.
Cover: Dana Ward
Edited by: Yili Char