Lore, Season 1
I wanted to like Lore more than I did.Amazon Prime’s television show is based on the podcast of the same name, which has won critical acclaim since its release in 2015. The host, Aaron Mahnke does an excellent job of mixing the scientific truth with the mythical lore of the day–and what led to some of our greatest ghost stories. When the show was announced in 2016 for a release in 2017, it seemed like a no-brainer: a live action retelling of Aaron’s stories, brought to an entirely new audience.
However, having seen the first three episodes, I find the format lacking. Each episode features reenactments, scientific non-fiction footage/information, and Aaron’s narration. While I think in another show this could work, the result in Lore is a mishmash of tone and structure that left me more bored than spooked; as someone who loves horror and scary stories in general, I was disappointed.
Genuinely I hate to say it, but most of the blame lies with Aaron Mahnke’s narration. While it works within the confines of his podcast, his voice brings no atmosphere to the show, and often cuts in on the reenactment parts, breaking the tension of the scene. It also often sounds like he is reading off a sheet of paper; while I know that’s what everyone who does voiceover work does, it shouldn’t sound like it.
The first three episodes deal with a family cursed by sickness, the invention of the transorbital lobotomy, and the Irish myth of changelings. Again, while the reenactment parts are wonderful, each is jarringly broken by Aaron’s narration and the introduction of historical slides and articles about the background of what is happening in each episode. Now I am someone who enjoys a great deal of non-fiction television, and I have seen this done very well in other series; it just doesn’t work here. The transitions aren’t smooth, and it seems the ‘breaks’ are in the wrong place–instead of heightening the tension, it lessens it, making for a less spooky story in general.
The strongest of the three episodes I was able to screen was the third; the acting in the reenactment segments was strong (anchored by Teen Wolf’s Holland Roden), and the core story about changelings was compelling. However, the story meandered to speak about strong willed women and how some were put into institutions by their husbands (which indeed was true in the Victorian period). While this had some relation to the story at hand, I think speaking on Irish myths in general would have been better, and the stories of women’s struggles in Victorian times saved for a different tale.
For all my complaints, I don’t think the show is without its merits; I will watch the rest of the series. However, it simply isn’t ‘spooky’ or really thematic due to the problems I listed above. I simply wanted this show to be better than it was–but it’s still an interesting diversion for the October season.