Genre: Horror, audio drama, found “footage”
Possible Triggers: Death, some disturbing imagery
Safe For Work: Yes
Hello, and welcome to The Box.
Most of us dream of finding something that will change our lives forever, in a good way. A magic lamp, a wardrobe that leads to another world, a golden ticket - there’s an entire genre based on discovering something amazing that takes the protagonist on a wonderful journey.
What about the not-so-amazing things, though? The things that change your life, but not always for the better? The things that turn your entire worldview on its head, the things that threaten your life instead of ultimately improving it?
That’s where The Box comes in.
Hosted by Addison Gilmore, The Box follows Addison as her humdrum life is thrown off track by the discovery of a mysterious box shoved back in the shelves of the bookstore she works at. It contains multiple, odd journal entries from varying points of view, and Addison concludes that it must be some sort of fiction project. Curious minds can never be satisfied, however, and the box ends up going home with Addison so she can investigate its contents and share it with her podcast audience. The entries seem to be written by various members of a shadowy agency which deals with paranormal/supernatural happenings, detailing cases they’ve worked and the bizarre, sometimes horrifying consequences that come with their job. The stories are well-written, thrilling, terrifying, and always leave you wanting more.
The show itself, however, always seems to fall short at one point - Addison’s persistent, never-ending skepticism. While a healthy dose of skepticism is always a good thing, especially in regards to a box of weird journal entries you stole from your place of employment, Addison almost goes over the top with her insistence that it’s “just a fiction project.” It really tears the listener out of the moment when they’ve just finished listening to this incredibly well written, well narrated, haunting story only for Addison to say “Wow, what a totally weird and fictional story that was!”
Despite her insistence that the stories can’t be real, Addison continues to pursue and research the stories, trying to find real-life proof of them and practical explanations for what had happened. Even when faced with undeniable proof, however, Addison finds a way to write it off and continues trying to find proof to support her preconceived notions.
And that’s where the show really falls down. Addison takes an investigative journalism approach to her research, but she forgets one of the most important rules of journalism - always remain objective*. Rather than asking questions and looking for answers, she decides what the answers already are despite whatever questions she may ask. While yes, Addison is not actually a journalist, she continuously acts like one, and at times even presents herself as a journalist to the people she interviews.
If you’re going to act like a journalist, then take it all the way. Go in with clear objectivity and no expectations. Let the facts inform you, rather than finding ways to make facts support your beliefs.
Am I taking this a little too seriously? Perhaps. But there’s a point where the skepticism starts to interfere with the story, and if Addison is going to pretend to be a journalist, it would be a good way for her to change her point of view - instead of insisting “it’s all just stories”, she could approach with less presumptions and see where the stories take her.
The show sets itself apart from others in the same vein in a distinctive way - Addison is the only narrator. Unlike other shows, which have gone the way of full audio productions with multiple voices, Addison does most of the work herself, with guest voices every now and again for interviews. It’s a return to the times of simplicity, and it’s done in a good way. Addison is a good narrator, even listening to all of her explanations of why none of this can be real gets a little tiring after a while.
LGBTQIA Friendly?: N/A
Pay to Listen?: No, but they accept donations
Overall: The Box has an excellent premise, a compelling mystery, and an extremely stubborn narrator who refuses to be swayed. Every now and again Addison’s beliefs are challenged, and at times it feels like she’s starting to come around. But her persistent skepticism continues to haunt the show. The stories and the mysteries contained within the box are certainly enough to keep you listening on your own - even if you cringe at the intervals between stories.
*This lesson brought to you by a journalism major currently working in the industry