Grade 8 English Language & Literature students recently produced 1940s-style Horror Radio Shows and performed them live for grade 4 and 5 audiences. In this project, students had the chance to explore the genre of horror and then apply that knowledge into creating a live radio show of their own. Every student had the opportunity to put their creative thinking and voice acting skills into action.

Grade 8 English L&L teachers Samantha Linehan and Chuck Adams have provided The Bite with three of the most outstanding podcasts for me to sink my earbuds into and critically evaluate. 

But Wait…Why Am I The Chosen One?

I chose to review these podcasts since I have experienced this project myself.

Last year, during my process of making a horror radio show, I ran into a lot of difficulties since I chose to work alone. I was obligated to manage voice acting, sound effects, timing, and coming up with new ideas on my own. Due to this issue I was not able to perform my very best and lost the opportunity to make an outstanding creation on a topic I enjoyed.

Therefore, in reviewing these podcasts I wish to bring attention to these fine creations and also raise awareness to any upcoming 8th graders about the task they will have to carry out. 

Why the Horror Genre?

Linehan introduced this unit (“The Language of Horror”) last year in order to add variety to the curriculum. Before teaching at AISB, Linehan taught in Hong Kong. She, along with her colleagues, were looking for ways to incorporate more language into units that were heavy on literature.

Linehan says, “Looking at how language is used by different kinds of creators and in creative ways, and knowing that middle schoolers tend to love the genre of horror, we thought that we would use [horror] as our focus.” 

When asked why students should produce a horror radio show, she explains that horror “is super tangible in terms of figuring out the effects of choices and language on the audience.”

“Rather than having students write or analyze or produce a piece of creative writing, we thought that a presentation of some sort like the radio show would be really fun.”

Grade 8 English teacher Samantha Linehan

#1 “Toilet Rush”

“Toilet Rush,” written and performed by Aylin J., Oyku H., and Lisa L., this radio show presents the story of three girls going on a school trip to the zoo. During the long bus journey, a minor accident forces a brief stop. Three girls, needing the restroom, find one nearby but are repelled by its foul odor of rotten eggs. Despite the stench, they reluctantly use it. However, upon trying to leave, they discover the door is locked. Their efforts to open it are met with eerie laughter from beyond. They begin to panic, fearing they might not be alone. If not, who’s there?!

Listen to the full podcast below:

“Toilet Rush” by Lisa L., Oyku H., and Aylin J.

REVIEW:

The plot of “Toilet Rush” never loses a thread, tying it from the end back to the beginning. There are many mysterious moments that leaves the audience guessing: Was the teacher hiding in the stall? Who or what locked the restroom door? Was it a coincidence that the bus broke down near THAT exact bathroom? 

English 8 teacher Adams said that this was one of his favorite radio shows due to its “fast pace, carefully rehearsed dialogue, humor, relatability due to its setting, and the sound effects made with vocals, physical objects, as well as digital.”

Many may agree with Adams’ commendation. Keeping the storyline fast paced and constantly throwing new and shocking events at the audience, it leaves them entertained and intrigued throughout the entire podcast. 

The acting these girls pulled off made me feel like I was listening to a voice recording of the real thing. Other than the fact they were communicating amongst each other moderately quickly, I was almost always able to hear the emotion dispensing from their voice. This also gave me a better idea of the situation they were in.

The tone was always kept appropriate for the moment; just sometimes it was difficult to tell who was speaking which lines. For example, in the scene with the ‘creepy voices’ there was almost no change in the pitch. Which, unfortunately, made me assume it was one of the main three characters talking, at first. 

The sound effects used so often throughout the podcasts makes the audience feel like the setting within the story is more genuine. Including sound effects allows the actors to simply play it out instead of specifically telling the audience what their intentions are.

Overall, this podcast was appropriate enough for elementary school students yet an exceptional level of horror for an older audience as well. There are very few flaws to the performance of this podcast that could easily come off as unnoticed. Outstanding, exemplary and listen-worthy work.


#2 “The Future”

In The Future—written by by Sophie G., Maya V., and Yasmine A., and guest starring vocals by Robin D.—the story line is, indeed, futuristic.

The story introduces Tess, a young girl preparing for school. However, she awakens to find herself confronted by two robots, Bot and Mot, who assume the role of her caretakers. Tess initially resists their orders, leading the robots to malfunction. Fearing their erratic behavior, Tess reluctantly complies with their commands. The robots then reveal a disturbing room meant to replace her school. Desperate, Tess attempts to escape. Before they can punish her, an unforeseen event disrupts their plans, altering the course of the story.

Listen to the full podcast below:

“The Future” by Maya V., Yasmine A., and Sophie G.

REVIEW:

“The Future” is creative and captivating, and the storyline progresses quickly with new events occurring by the second. As much as this keeps the audience engaged, it could also make the story come off as confusing, making it difficult to keep up along the way. Too many sudden unexpected actions can sometimes cause a challenge to the audience in processing the setting and actions of the main character, Tess.

The acting in this podcast is believable, as it is not exaggerated, which makes the moments sound more realistic. The robotic voices are always kept the same flat tone which matches the circumstances perfectly along with giving the robots a more professional and creepy demeanor. Listeners can easily understand the confusion and fear being delivered out through Tess’s voice acting. Convincing reactions and communication considering her role as a seven year old girl.

The sound effects used in this podcast fit every single moment perfectly and just made it sound realistic. There was a diverse use of techniques in order to create sound effects, but the physical sound effects such as the knocking on the door and footsteps, sound much more realized. The podcast sounded so well in terms of background music and sound effects allowing the audience to feel that eerie, bone chilling atmosphere.

“My favorite part of the performance was the carefully-rehearsed glitchy robot vocals, adding a realistic touch to an otherworldly setting.”

Grade 8 English teacher Chuck Adams

#3 “Witch of the Wood”

This third and final radio show under review is “Witch of the Wood.” Written and performed entirely by Mariia P., this story describes a young girl named Masha who goes to the woods, along with her friend Cathy, despite rumors of a child-stealing witch. Their exploration takes a sinister turn when Cathy vanishes after a chilling scream. Frantic to find her friend, Masha encounters a woman who claims Cathy was taken by the witch. She offers assistance but drugs Masha with a gingerbread. Masha wakes in a cage, realizing the woman is the witch. Despite a failed escape attempt, Masha witnesses the witch steal Cathy’s heart. Fearing for her own life, Masha flees, leaving Cathy behind. The chilling question remains: Will Masha escape the witch’s grasp or suffer Cathy’s fate?

Listen to the full podcast below:

“Witch of the Wood” by Mariia P.

REVIEW:

The storyline reminded me a lot of Hansel and Gretel. The plot is very straightforward, having its first shocking occurrence in the first couple seconds of the podcast. The early kidnapping of Cathy presents to the listener that a long adventure is about to begin. The story is clearly being presented apart from the fact it is not obvious which girl plays what role. To elaborate, It took a lot of thinking alone to realize which one of the two friends was being kidnapped. Besides that, the moments throughout the podcast were fairly easy to follow, with consistent events that were not in the slightest uncorrelated with the plot. 

The acting within this podcast was played out beautifully and consistently throughout the entire thing. The acting was not over exaggerated allowing the podcast to sound more pragmatic. It is understandable that the Witch is not supposed to convey any specific emotion, therefore, the tone is kept cold. As for the two girls, the emotion interpreted through their voices sounded genuine, especially when the feeling of fear was being conveyed.

Not only was it fascinating to hear the Witch’s lines of dialogue, it also showed the difference between the knowledge levels of the young girls and the manipulating Witch. There was one single moment within the podcast when the person acting out the Witch’s lines got confused, leaving a pause between the words in her sentence. This flaw stood out to me since the voice acting throughout the entire podcast is so incredibly performed. 

The sound effects are carefully picked out to fit each specific setting. For example, there is a use of grassy, quiet footsteps when outside and dull and loud footsteps when inside the house. There is also a use of unsettling sounds whenever the Witch’s presence is revealed to convey a haunting and sinister image of her. 

“Maria made excellent use of sound effects that were perfectly timed and executed.”

Grade 8 English teacher Samantha Linehan

Linehan adds: “I also thought that her voice acting enhanced the story, especially the modulation for the witch’s voice to make it spookier. Because it somewhat resembled a story students are familiar with, it was very appropriate for the younger intended audience because they could anticipate some of the elements that might be a bit scarier.”

Final Thoughts from The Final Girl

This concludes my review on my top three Horror podcasts. What were your thoughts on these podcasts? Share them in the comments below.