Want to hear something really scary?
A new podcast catering directly to fans of spooky, unsettling encounters presents its short-form stories as if they are true-crime mysteries, elevating the impact of wildly popular podcasts like Serial into a supernatural stratosphere.
The show is called Point Mystic, and it’s unlike anything currently available.
“There is no script or actors,” creator and host Christopher Reynaga, a California-based writer, explained in a press release announcing Point Mystic’s debut. “The conversations are real, and there isn’t any idea of what the story is going to be when the microphone is switched on.”
The special pilot, “Episode 00: The Fireman,” focuses on author Joe Hill’s 2016 novel, The Fireman, and features Martha Quinn, one of the original MTV veejays, who also is a character in Hill’s latest book.
It incorporates traditional reporting, musical interludes, interviews and more, delivered in a serious news package format, treating the events of Hill’s novel as if they are happening now, in today’s real world.
Reynaga serves as a kind of paranormal-reporting Garrison Keillor, explaining the fictional epidemic, called “Dragonscale,” which in Hill’s book causes individuals to spontaneously combust.
He visits a church, poignantly describing the moment when the internal flicker turns into a flame. He introduces a survivor of the plague named Joe Hill, which he says is a pseudonym to protect Hill’s true identity, so Hill can offer even more details about the traumatic effects of a full-on “Dragonscale” flameout. And he offers a sliver of hope for listeners who know all too well the danger of a true pandemic scorching across the planet.
Hill — the son of iconic horror novelist Stephen King — is a master storyteller. His 2009 novel, Heart-Shaped Box, is arguably one of the scariest original ghost stories ever written. He’s also known for 2011’s Horns, which was adapted into a feature film starring Daniel Radcliffe, and he authored Locke & Key, a long-running paranormal comic book from IDW Publishing.
By participating in Reynaga’s new podcast series, Hill is actually following in his father’s footsteps once again. King played a prominent role on Shooter Jennings' brilliant 2011 concept album, Black Ribbons, providing narration between songs as an alternate-reality United States counted down to the end of First Amendment free speech rights and the start of a new, totalitarian political regime. King’s character, an underground radio deejay named Will O’ the Wisp, railed against government oppression, offering commentary before each of Black Ribbon’s 20 songs.
The beauty of Point Mystic is it offers a fresh spin on the podcast format, deftly weaving in disturbing events and fantastic imagery in a way that’s both captivating and entertaining.
Horror, as a genre, lends itself well to spoken word. And within the podcast construct, Reynaga’s presentation becomes the equivalent of a 21st century campfire story. Whether listening in your car or sitting alone in the quiet of your office, you’re sucked in. Your imagination swirls. The line between reality and fiction blurs, even if just for a brief 21 minutes.
And that’s the true joy of Point Mystic — it doesn’t require a significant investment of time. It’s long enough to be satisfying and feel complete, but short enough to be digested on a morning work commute.
“Episode 01: White Rabbit,” debuted (appropriately enough) on Halloween: October 31, 2016. You can listen to “White Rabbit,” and “The Fireman” in their entirety on Reynaga’s website, Point Mystic.org.
John W. Allman is the owner and author of BVB: Blood Violence and Babes. For a complete rundown of the latest Blu-Ray, DVD and movie reviews, plus news, interviews and more, visit BVB online at Blood Violence and Babes.com, like on Facebook @BloodViolenceBabes and follow on Twitter @BVB_reviews.