Home » The Burbs: Stephen King Meets the Exorcist

The Burbs: Stephen King Meets the Exorcist

The first season of the suspense/horror show “The Burbs” has few moments of actual horror in the vein of a Stephen King homage. It relies heavily on loud-sound jump scares to get the listener’s heart racing. Often times the reaction of the characters is scarier than the actual catalyst itself. From the start, the mixing of background music and dialogue with narration compete with each other for dominance. The microphones or voice filters used certainly don’t help with identifying what is said before the first instance of the title read. This is an expedited review.

Stephen King Suspense and Questionable Sound Quality

While the creepy demonic child voice in the beginning gives an Exorcist vibe, not a lot is done beyond the opening narration to utilize it. Really, this audio drama has clear Stephen King influences in both its tone and plot thus far. Stopping after the mid-season finale of the second season hooked me in better than the first one. There were some improvements in sound quality between them.

Normally, I don’t mind a recording sounding tinny — as long as it’s not the entire audio drama. The narrator does add a Neil Gaiman “Sandman” vibe to the whole thing. The overall sound quality doesn’t quite reach over the lower bar set by shows with a similar issue.

Repeat Musical Offenders and Compositing from Pieces

A couple more issues I had before going into the positives. One of them relates to the overuse of the same background music between scenes. They fit the story well, it’s just relied on too much that it loses impact by the second or third episode of the full first season.

The second problem I have has to do with how the complete first season inside a single episode is put together. Part of it is the recap, which I feel wastes time for this type of podcast episode. The opening in general didn’t help matters, acting as a reset each time and taking me out of the story.

Wholesome Horror with a Side of Stephen King’s “The Shining”

Using the word “wholesome” to describe a horror, usually, isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement of a story in that genre. The two lead characters — a mother and her teenage daughter — have such good chemistry. That family dynamic is what kept me listening despite the inconsistent sound quality and music bordering on cliche. Writer Liane Moonraven captures the healthiness of their relationship so well that I’m almost dreading the inevitable terror you know awaits them later in the series.

With six seasons at the time of this writing and the most recent episode dropping in 2017, I’m cautiously optimistic about the show’s audio quality in future episodes that are already out. There’s a lot of heavy Stephen King inspiration here, mostly “The Shining” and its haunted hotel on a Native American burial ground plot device. You just need to replace a hotel with a house and the setup is nearly identical.

7/10 Stars