Monday, October 24, 2022

The Murder Podcast: Horror-Comedy with Ramen

Chad Thadwick and his best stoner pal Eddie make the amateur podcaster-sleuths of Only Murders in the Building look like Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, and Miss Marple. The lads are a bit dim-witted, even when they haven’t been hitting the bong. Nevertheless, their ill-conceived attempt at true crime podcasting uncovers a sinister supernatural entity in director-screenwriter William Bagley’s The Murder Podcast, which releases Wednesday on VOD.

Thadwick’s current podcast, “Ramen Reviews with Chad Thadwick” is attracting about as many listeners as you would expect. (Keep in mind, his ramen is strictly the cheap store-bought kind, not fine dining ramen.) After his impatient brother-in-law raises his rent, Thadwick convinces his sidekick Eddie to switch formats to criminal investigation. Conveniently, his quiet suburban town just had its first suspicious death in years. Officer Stachburn assures the media the victim’s head simply popped off accidentally, as the result of a freak fall, but even an idiot like Thadwick can tell that’s bogus.

Viewers know from the prologue, the first victim brought the spirit of an angry witch home with him, after he stumbled across her grave during a hike. The moron took the coin off her tombstone, which had sealed her inside the tomb. Naturally, she starts bumping off victims, as that coin passes from hand to hand.

You can often see how hard Bagley is trying to entertain horror fans throughout
Podcast. As a result, many of the bits feel rather forced. However, some of the gags manage to connect, especially when ramen suddenly becomes relevant to the narrative again, thanks to its high sodium content. On the other hand, the lore surrounding the witch is better developed than the usual bogeymen of most horror-comedies. Weirdly, some of the “straight” material helps retain viewers, like the revelation Thadwick’s disgraced conspiracy-mongering father tried to expose the witch during her last killing spree, at the cost of his credibility.

Frankly, Andrew McDermott might have toned down Thadwick’s abrasive jerkiness a tad and Cooper Bucha might have amped-up the energy just a bit for the spacey, eternally-forgiving Eddie. The former is simply exhausting, while the latter is maybe a little too retiring to counterbalance him. However, Levi Burdick manages to deliver a lot of broad humor that hits the target as Stacheburn, without force-feeding viewers schtick.

It is also tricky to strike the right balance with horror comedy. Bagley does okay, which is arguably pretty good. The title is misleading, though, because there is a whole lot of supernatural stuff going on, so it is nothing like a
Murders in the Building clone. Worth checking out as a free stream if the premise amuses you, The Murder Podcast releases Wednesday (10/26) on VOD.