In Liana Moonraven’s horror podcast, The Burbs, Lisa Sheraton moves her daughter to the small town of Clarington after the unexpected death of her husband. Clarington has a strange almost liminal atmosphere, specifically in the new home of the Sheratons. What begins as a potential fresh start for the Sheraton becomes a nightmare of supernatural activity. Grief, new relationships, and the strangeness of the town and its people have Lisa and Brittney on edge, but what awaits them in their new home proves to be more terrifying.

As they learn more about Clarington, the house, and the people past and present who have both lived in the house and are aware of its history, life becomes more frenetic and terrifying. Unable to pick up and leave, the Sheratons hunt for the source, using every available resource they can, from police to paranormal investigators to discover the entity and start over.

For a horror podcast that relies on its length for punch, The Burbs is very good at getting the point across quickly. The episodes are no longer than 15 minutes allowing writer-director Liana Moonraven to optimize the skills of the actors and her own writing to inject jabs of adrenaline and fear. The overall town of Clarington is atmospheric and immersive and feels like a place you’re sure you’ve been to, even if it was just a drive-through. It also feels like a town that as you were driving through you couldn’t wait to reach the other end.

The acting is uneven, I’ll be honest, but I appreciate the effort. I really enjoy Siara Tyr as Brittany Sheraton and Meosha Bean as Jennifer Stanley and the two together have great chemistry. Jarvis Shaffer as Detective Tony Curtis and Brad Smith as Sam Norwood provide romantic foils for the main characters. Dahjn Maria Gomez does a little too much for the dialogue, but I do love the enthusiasm.

The Burbs has an old-time radio feel, complete with a narrator and stingers designed to enhance the audio experience. If there are drawbacks to this series, it’s these two elements. The narration, specifically the recaps, and mid-episode storytelling are unnecessary to me and felt like padding. Great writing and delivery tell the audience where the characters are, so any narration took me out of the experience. The recap intro, which is the same intro before every episode, is two minutes too long. If I’m still listening by Episode 3, I don’t need a recap.

Secondly, the audio stingers, familiar riffs recognizable from horror movies like Psycho, don’t match the story’s intensity and feel unnecessarily extra. Quiet incidental music would have been more than enough.

I listened to the first 2 seasons of The Burbs to get a feel for the overall story, and I like what I’m hearing. As they’re are already 6 seasons, I’m excited to experience the rest of the story.

I think The Burbs is an excellent starter series for those looking to dip their toe into episodic fiction before diving into longer heavier material like The Magnus Archives or Mantawauk Caves. I also believe The Burbs is the perfect length for a quick story hit, but I wouldn’t mind an end-of-the-season marathon of all of that season’s episodes, minus the intros.

I’m very interested to see what else Liana Moonraven has in store for us next.

The Burbs is available wherever you listen to your podcasts. Listener discretion is advised for swears, unexpected music cues, thematic violence and unsettling action.

The Burbs is present by The Carmen Online Theater Group.

Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

Leave a comment...