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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: ‘Alice Isn’t Dead’ is killing the podcast game

    Official art for the podcast Alice Isnt Dead. Alice Isnt Dead is a fictional podcast that follows a truck driver on a search to find her wife, whom she thought was dead.
    Alice Isn’t Dead via Podbay
    Official art for the podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead.” “Alice Isn’t Dead” is a fictional podcast that follows a truck driver on a search to find her wife, whom she thought was dead.

    “Alice, I … I want to start by saying—oh shit,” is the first line spoken by the narrator of the new podcast “Alice Isn’t Dead,” as a car cuts her tractor trailer off on the highway. If that isn’t something to hook a listener, nothing is.

    “Alice Isn’t Dead” is a new fictional podcast from the Night Vale Presents network and writer Joseph Fink. The podcast chronicles a female truck driver’s trip across the country in search of her wife, whom she once thought was dead, but now believes to be still alive.

    The narrator, voiced by Jasika Nicole, records her day-to-day journey through her CB radio, made evident to listeners by the static that cuts off the feed every few minutes. While the search for her missing wife is strange enough as it is, Fink makes it clear that this isn’t your average missing person case. From the start, the narrator comes across frightening, nonhuman creatures, passes through unsettling towns and finds herself in situations that would make even the strongest-willed listener check over their shoulder at night.

    Fink’s incredibly detailed writing gives the podcast an extra touch of uniqueness. You can’t exactly call it creepy, but there is something almost hypnotic about the narrator’s words. This style of highly detailed and poetic language is a staple of his and is what made him famous in the world of podcasts.

    Fink and co-creator Jeffrey Cranor premiered their first podcast, “Welcome to Night Vale,” on June 15, 2012. This podcast featured their lyrical writing style and quirky subject matter. Set up as a radio show from the fictional desert town Night Vale, the podcast’s host, Cecil Gershwin Palmer (voiced by actor Cecil Baldwin), delivers the daily news and updates listeners on town events in a city that is unlike any you could ever imagine.

    “Welcome to Night Vale” is strange, funny and downright charming, and has met overwhelming success, so there were high hopes when Fink first announced “Alice Isn’t Dead” as his newest project. While Fink’s new project stays true to the established writing style and eccentric feel of “Welcome to Night Vale,” the creepiness has been kicked up a notch.

    The narrator’s cross-country journey isn’t something out of “Paranormal Activity,” but it will unsettle listeners who are used to less frightening tales. The story keeps listeners on their toes, always waiting for the narrator’s next line, always wondering what bizarre situation she may find herself in next.

    There’s always hesitation when describing “Welcome to Night Vale” as horror, but “Alice Isn’t Dead” definitely belongs in that category. Fink allows the new podcast to stand on its own with the extra amount of creepiness rather than be a spin-off of “Welcome to Night Vale,” which was a common fear among dedicated fans.

    “Alice Isn’t Dead” also enjoys toying with time and the concept of linear storytelling. The narrator will often be speaking, usually recounting some event that happened, and suddenly she will be cut off by static, sometimes right in the middle of her sentence. When she returns, it is as if the listener is picking up her CB radio signal from another place and time. She’ll be discussing something completely different, often addressing Alice directly.

    The static will return once she’s done and sometimes the listener will return to that moment before the static interrupted and it will be like no time passed. Other times, there will be things missing—a sentence, a few words, an entire scene—and the listener has to fill in the blanks. The nonlinear storytelling increases the mystery of the road trip and makes the listener wonder exactly how they are able to hear the narrator’s story at all.

    Is this story taking place in real time or did it already happen? Is this somehow being recorded or can we hear the narrator’s CB radio feed? Where has Alice gone and why did she have to leave? Who is our narrator, besides being a truck driver and Alice’s wife?

    The questions are endless and some may never be answered. But listeners can always hope as they wait for the next episode, documenting the strangest road trip ever taken.

    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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