‘The NoSleep Podcast’ can leave you mortified or disappointed

Walking down the stacks of your high school library, it’s nearly impossible not to pick up “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and flip squeamishly through the horrific images of the stories’ monsters.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” both exhilarated me and was likely the cause for my adolescent bout with insomnia. I had an overactive imagination growing up.

Had I known this harmless children’s book would leave a profound and lasting scar on me for the rest of my young life, I maybe would’ve had someone read it to me, so I wouldn’t have to see Stephen Gammell’s nightmarish illustrations.

I’ve since learned to love being scared because it’s the sensation you never expect, and anything can be scary. But in my adult life, it takes a little more than the woman from the “Scary Stories 3” tale “The Dream” to give me the willies, though I could have done without seeing her again.

I’m Christopher Cizek, and this is “Podcast Picks.”

“The NoSleep Podcast” is a horror fiction podcast that started in 2011 that can mortify me like only a good Creepypasta can, but also sometimes leaves me disappointed. Horror is a difficult genre on which to base a podcast.

Tropes abound, plots are often cliche and predictable, no one knows how to turn on a light, etc. It is tough to genuinely scare someone because I feel most horror is too forward and dramatic. Personally, if you want to scare me, anticipation is the worst. Please do not scare me, though. Thanks.

“The NoSleep Podcast” features a handful of voice actors and eerie, atmospheric music, which won’t necessarily keep you up all night, but will crank the spooky factor up a bit.

Each episode features more than one scary story, the first ever being “The Stairs and the Doorway,” a suspense horror piece about a college night watchman who descends into the unfathomable bowels of the school’s science building only to find some spooky-scary stuff. Would recommend.

The only downside to this episode is that it set the bar high, and left me expecting to be scared fully to death in the story following it, but nope.

The anticipation of “Stairs and the Doorway” opened the “NoSleep Podcast” door for me, pulled up a chair, gave me a small bag of popcorn and was very hospitable. After that came a few stories that tread lightly on the tropes, but then there were some that went full cliche. I’ll give you a synopsis.

“I’m staying at my parents’ old cabin. I remember scraping my knee by the fireplace years ago. There’s whiskey here and I drink some. It’s around midnight. I always knew the wiring was faulty, so the lights go out. Good thing my parents were born in the Dark Ages because there are tapered candles and matches everywhere.” Lights a candle.

“Why is there blood where I bled thirty-something years ago? Is that a dead body? Oh, that’s me from when I was a kid. How can I be dead when I’m right here?” The father of that guy wakes up and finds his son dead by the fireplace.

Wow, that wasn’t bad. Now I’m all scared. “The NoSleep Podcast” has both bloody gems and fool’s gold, and it’s up to you to mine out the good stuff that’s worth getting scared for. Not every story chills your bones like “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” but it’s worth a listen if you’re looking to get scared while wearing headphones in a perfectly well-lit room.

Listen to “The NoSleep Podcast” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and at thenosleeppodcast.com.

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