Home » October’s Children: Slow-Burning Sound Horror

October’s Children: Slow-Burning Sound Horror

2022-23’s “October’s children” is one of the rare instances where the sound design is often scarier than a majority of the story beats. This review comes recommended by its producer—Derrick Valen—and is written by Jacob Mandell. It’s currently eight episodes long at the time of this post. The first season will be 10 episodes according to the producer.

This paranormal horror audio drama amps up the former adjective while downplaying the latter one. From the first episode, strange things are happening in Wolfbrook, New Hampshire. A fictional town set in a real state with its own track record of the unexplained and supernatural. The setting is rarely taken into account in the story itself, aside from the credits, and the show and episode descriptions. The show could be set anywhere. It’s very abstract in that way. Bonus points for having the setting make sense and not picking a random state or saying it takes place in Salem, MA. By this point anything supernatural taking place in a town famous for witch burnings lacks some imagination. Mandell did his homework and picked a fresh, unique setting to set “October’s Children.”

October’s (Diverse) Children: Vignetted Ensemble Horror

Those looking for a protagonist or main character in this small town horror fiction podcast aren’t going to be satisfied. if you’re like me, the one thing that will negatively impact your listening experience is the shifting focus on different unrelated events that you hope will get answered by the end in a satisfying way.

The characters from this are from all walks of life. That said, remembering names and what their role or personality was in the story was maddening. Every time I thought I had it down, the story would contradict my previous assumptions. Aside from a few I have no idea who the new coffee shop attendee is named.

Part of the double taking on my part is intentional, I think. Derrick Valen plays with stereotypes in the sense that what you hear isn’t what you expect. If you hear a southern United State’s accent, you might assume the character is conservative. With “October’s Children,” that stereotype is flipped. That person with a southern drawl broke up with someone of the same gender as themselves. Whichever identifying characteristic is accurate, it happens within the first minute of episode one.

Suspense, Horror, Thriller … Comedy?

The show’s Twitter/X social media account says that episode 9 is in production in their pinned comment. With episode eight dropping back in May 2023, it’s unclear how long that message has been up and if episode 9 is still indeed coming soon. Speculation aside, “October’s Children” has a similar vibe to “Mantawauk Caves.” Both are about strange happenings in small towns with great mixing and sound design. For being an independent podcast, the sound design is even better than the iHeart Radio produced podcast from Blumhouse Productions and Psychopia Pictures. At least if we’re talking about the horror elements of each show. One is a different type of horror more akin to something like “The Menu” in 2022 where some critics and viewers say it’s more a thriller than a horror. That all depends on your definition of the genre.

Between the gruesome sound and heart-racing terror is a lot of character relationships and geeky humor. The balance is more favorable of character interactions and the comedy, which stems from the comedy. Horror seems to be an afterthought. But when it’s done, it’s done really well. The tow-truck person oozes the personality of a sociopath who feels no remorse. Even if you’ve never played the “Half-Life” games, if you’re an old enough gamer, you’d probably recognized the character of G-Man. That’s who I saw when listening.

October’s Children: Final Thoughts

“October’s Children” works best as a dark comedy, but doesn’t go far enough in that direction to where it’s obviously in that genre. Caught between three worlds, the story thus far, lacks a bit of direction. Something that only an exciting middle and a decent ending can fix. I am pessimistically optimistic, but optimistic nevertheless.

8/10 Stars