If you’re a fan of both horror and podcasts, there’s no better time than today to sample on some of the eeriest audio offerings out there. The popularity of podcasts is still, and will continue to be on the rise in the years to come. Shows like Pod Save America and Serial have inspired a legion of imitators, which means that we won’t have to worry about the quantity of shows available at our fingertips.
Fortunately for us, one of the genres where quality has matched the quantity is horror. We’ve all heard of the Night Vale among the most famous of them all, but that’s just the tip of the ice berg. With more than a century of horror movies searing petrifying images into our brains, it seems quaint to turn to an audio-only format to get scared, but the recent boom in podcasting has delivered a wave of fantastic horror podcasts to keep us wide awake in the dead of night. Here are some of our top 5 best horror podcasts in 2021.
Top 5 Best Horror Podcasts in 2021
Alice Isn’t Dead
30 chapters + extras
For those who already know the joyful strangeness of Welcome to Nightvale, Alice Isn’t Dead is the organic evolution of that series into purer mystery fiction. It features a truck driver roaming across a largely empty United States looking for a wife she’d thought was dead. There’s a lonesome air about it, and the oddities and side roads she encounters inject the best creative elements of Nightvale into a more traditional structure that can fill your heart and hollow it out.
The Dark Verse
The beauty of Sharkchild’s storytelling lies in its seductive simplicity. Billed as a “universe of occult, metaphysical, and fantastical horror stories,” the stories almost always hit the mark by giving you something dark to think about long after the initial shock jolts you out of your seat. The Witness Protection Program-style vocal filter he uses also gives each tale a hint of otherworldly taboo — like a twisted confessional meant for your ears only.
Ghost in the Burbs
A children’s librarian sits down with her neighbors in Wellesley, Massachusetts to hear stories that definitely aren’t for children. Stripped down and personal, Liz Sower’s one-woman show focuses on ghosts haunting the suburbs, but the real fear comes from the banal. She’s a strong, intense narrator delivering tales with the one-two punch of middle-class social anxiety and supernatural monsters. Each episode stands on its own, but you should start at the beginning for the full experience of the dark horrors lurking in the sunshine of Liz’s Wellesley.
This series from Soren Narnia uses the limitations of audio as a strength. Like the spooky offspring of H.G. Wells and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Knifepoint offers campfire tales for the iPhone era. The show is perhaps the most stripped down of all horror podcasts, purposely relying on one speaker’s voice (instead of sudden violin strings and mood music) to present an off-putting story that’s realistic enough (most of the time) to make you wonder whether you’re next.
If you’re after a descent into madness brought on by grief and sci-fi social media, this gorgeously crafted series about an FBI employee struggling to get his life together eight months after his wife’s death should shoot to the top of your list. Pristinely produced with acting that reaches through your headphones to grip your heart, it’s Her as a campfire ghost story.
It’s a strange world out there, and can’t do anything about it getting stranger by the second. There are endless things to distract ourselves during this time—streaming shows, puzzles, board games—but if you’re the type who enjoys slipping into an even deeper endless nightmare, horror podcasts are the way to go.