Lore: Amazon Prime Series review

The new Amazon Prime anthology series thrills with retellings of the historical events that birthed the world’s most enduring legends.

Lore, a new entry into Amazon’s ever-expanding repertoire of TV shows and films, debuted its entire first season on Friday 13th, aptly timed for Halloween. Each of the 6 forty-minute episodes provides eerie retellings of the historical events that either directly, or indirectly, created the urban legends and old wives’ tales we know today.

“It is easy to connect the auditory phenomenon to the spectacle of the show”

Originally a podcast narrated by writer-creator Aaron Mahnke, each Lore episode weaves together stunning animation and unsettling film to reveal the reality behind the scary stories that have shaped our understanding of the world for centuries. A sense of dread and unease sweep through you with each viewing. Yet, with the calming tones of Mahnke’s narration guiding you through, it is easy to connect the auditory phenomenon of the podcast to the visual spectacle of the show.

“Images on screen can be off-putting”

The clash between the storybook-style narration and the occasionally unpalatable images on screen can be off-putting for some, but the show is undeniably gripping, and you leave each episode not only wanting to watch more, but having learnt something new about world history. Manhke originally developed the podcast as a marketing experiment, but it has gone on to become a hit, with listeners tuning in every week to get their dose of history and folk legend.

The podcast website,, describes the show as one that ‘exposes the darker side of history’ and the television adaptation does not disappoint. Each episode opens with ‘Everything you are about to see is based on actual people and eventsand for once you can rest assured that this disclaimer isn’t just for the fear factor. The basis of each episode – each lore – is based on truth and facts, which no doubt makes it scarier.

“Rest assured that you’re in for a thrill either way”

The transition from podcast to television show is no doubt a tricky one. Some may believe that aspects that made Lore the winner of the iTunes ‘Best of 2015’ and ‘Best of 2016’ Awards have been lost in the translation into this new format, but whether you’re a long-time fan of the original podcast or a newcomer to the Amazon show, rest assured that you’re in for a thrill either way.

As with countless other anthology series, such as FX’s American Horror Story, it seems inevitable that there are some excellent episodes mixed in with ones that are less so. Lore unfortunately does not escape this; some episodes seem to rely just on the scares, forgetting the historical facts that made the podcast so famous.

“Many of the tales told seem to be cautionary ones”

Viewers have also criticised the show for lacking the qualities the podcast retains, though it remains an immersive experience, reminiscent of The Twilight Zone and the works of the Brothers Grimm or Angela Carter. Parallels can even be drawn between Lore and ITV’s Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids, in that often, many of the tales told seem to be cautionary ones.

But Lore isn’t just ‘fairytales for adults’. It provides a real opportunity to learn about the world and discover how history has shaped the beliefs of today. Based on the first podcast from May 2015, episode one, They Made A Tonic, poses the question “How far are we willing to go to keep a loved one alive?” and explores the effect of tuberculosis on the population of early 19th Century New England, discussing live-burials, demons, and the origin of the phrase ‘saved by the bell’.

Episode two ventures into the world of asylums in the early 20th century, three the folklore of changelings in Ireland, and episode four the Spiritualist movement and its grip on America. Every episode creates links between the past and the present in ways you least expect, and each one ends with a profound statement that can chill you to the bone.

“The show lures the viewer in with promises of spooky stories”

Lore proves that not only can homemade podcasts translate into successful television, but that at the heart of every legend is a human story. Behind the eerie events that led to the creation of urban myths and fairytales are real people, whose fears and beliefs sometimes had unimaginable consequences. The show lures the viewer in with promises of spooky stories, and then keeps you intrigued by revealing that every superstition is rooted in the life of a person or a community.

Lore, in a sentence, puts force behind the idea that there is truth to the stories you tell in the dark.

Lore is available on Amazon Prime now.


Esme Johnson

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