by Fool and Scholar Productions
Social Link : @WhiteVault
Writer/Creator - K.A. Statz - @StatzInk
Producer/ Sound Designer - Travis Vengroff - @VenTravis
Explore the far reaches of the world’s horrors. Follow the collected records of a repair team sent to a remote arctic outpost and unravel what lies waiting in the ice below.
The White Vault is a horror fiction audio drama podcast that features languages and voices from around the globe. It often showcases the found footage format, accurate depictions of modern archaeology, and isolation horror, brought to life by a full cast and detailed soundscape.
I didn’t expect my second review to be The White Vault. There were many options, and on paper this didn’t seem like a podcast that would grip me.
But oh man, did it ever grip me.
This story is damn compelling and I now find myself at their mercy eagerly awaiting what is to come next - and how they did it is what is truly unique about this show.
First off, the writing in this feels real. Each character has their own unique perspective and voice - not just because they all speak their own languages - which obviously helps- but they all act, sound and feel like unique people. I feel like I know them on a personal level within a matter of episodes which only makes the dread more intense.
The nuance and attention to detail cannot be understated. This is well researched, translated, and could potentially be the smartest narrative podcast I have listened to. This is smart not just in how it sets up it’s mystery- but just the science that these people are exploring and the methods all feel extremely well researched and real.
It’s incredibly compelling and very, very good.
Considering The Thing is one of my favourite horror movies, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that another “Cold Style” creature horror gripped my attention, but to execute this kind of dread is to be commended. Horror in an only audio format is incredibly difficult to pull off- and while I wont say that this is terrifying, it manages to paint their images well and builds a consistent tone throughout the entire piece. Would I call it scary? Not necessarily- but I certainly wouldn’t want my nephews listening to it. I love the breadcrumbs aspect of the piece - it slowly lays out clues and sets up twists and turns that may not even execute in this series. The methodical and careful planning make this exciting - and the found footage perspective is a fantastic framing device as it allows the extra details to come into focus.
Like everything, I would not describe it as a perfect show. When there are heavy action sequences you can feel the constraints of the medium. It can definitely be hard to get a sense of what’s happening - which fits the mood of what the characters are experiencing. But there are moments where even after listening attentively- I find myself a bit confused as to how something happened- or what a character was doing.
This show is divided into five chapters, of which the fourth chapter is currently in its final stages. The first chapter is probably the easiest to follow, with the third being the most confusing so far. After listening to it- I’m still not sure what happened to make the emergency situation go from low to high so fast and I feel like the end of that season is a bit rushed. I will definitely be re-listening to it with a more careful ear- but when the first adventure unfolds over two seasons, and the third whips by much faster we don’t learn as much about the characters, their motivations or their relationships as much as we did with the first group.
One of the best things about the first season is that these characters have time to breathe and develop- one of my favorite moments are when two of them are crawling through a cave and talking about what one of them wanted to be before becoming a doctor. It’s a simple moment, but it’s so well handled and brilliantly done that it sticks with me.
This is where the characters and the dialogue truly shine. When these characters get to just talk to each other in these harrowing moments it really tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to follow them and engage with the story. You care about these characters, and you want them to succeed- you root for them in a big way and that’s a huge testament to the writers and their incredible skill in capturing that nuance.
Also huge props for the incredible diversity and skill from the entire range of the performers. They all do an incredible job and should be commended across the board with their presentation to their casting. I’m very impressed across the board.
Currently I think the weakest part of the journey is the framing device that initially was just used to present information has recently taken on a bigger role within the piece and it leaves me feeling conflicted. I feel like it’s trying to build up the mystery further - but it’s not as engaging as the main conflict that is currently unfolding. I am willing to trust that this is all for a good reason- but for now I am a bit more wary of this new development.
The biggest downside to discovering this journey at this point is that now I have to actually wait for the next episode - which is eating me up. I am very excited to see where they take this next and look forward to seeing how this develops and grows from here. The White Vault is most definitely a dangerous journey worth investigating.
Technical: Excellent Quality
Voice Acting: Pristine
Characters: Well Defined
Length: Medium - 20-40 minutes
Spooky Locales: 2 (so far)
Rating: 5 Spooky Figures in a snowstorm
Review by Matti McLean - @thebigshibam
Can't Stand Sitting Productions is currently airing Tin Wings.