The Narrow Caves – Audio Drama Review (2017)
Adam reviews Cinestate’s newest Audio Drama The Narrow Caves written by S. Craig Zahler the writer/director of Bone Tomahawk and starring Wyatt Russell, Lily Simmons, Vincent D’Onofrio and narrated by Will Patton.
Many band about the comparisons to Stephen King for authors, filmmakers, et. al., most is just short hand without the actual heft to the analogy. The Narrow Caves the newest media venture from writer S. Craig Zahler (Bone Tomahawk) is absolutely at home and takes up a huge resident in the area that the best of King’s work occupies in horror fiction. Set in the 1980’s the audio drama follows the strange happenings around two generations of a family cursed by something sinister within the woods and underneath it. By focusing on the burgeoning relationship between Ruby (Lily Simmons) and Walter (Wyatt Russell), making the central mystery and horror the background, Zahler and audio director Keith Reynolds have created a tense horror story that works on multiple levels and is as terrifying as it is heartbreaking. Be warned this story plays just as dirty as the writer’s directorial debut Bone Tomahawk.
Many audio dramas trade luxe sound design and score in favor of a meaty worthy story, this is not the case with The Narrow Cave. That is not to say that the sound design isn’t top rated, it is, but the story and central mystery at it’s core is the hook here. The story being told in different time periods and mixture of genres. It never confuses, always drawing you farther in to what has happened to the Ruby’s family both in the 1920’s and the 1980’s. The way that Zahler is able to jump from terse period horror to collegiate bawdy comedy to subtle romantic drama to intense sexualized horror is amazing. It all feels apart of a whole. A heady brew that any geek will be delighted over it’s 3 hour running time.
The performances by it’s actors and the narrator are all aces. It does help that the narrator is none other than Will Patton (Armageddon, Falling Skies). The great character actor is this Audio Drama’s secret weapon. Patton’s cool, paced and collected delivery add a layer of tension during the set pieces that’s as delicious as it’s smart. It should come to no surprise to anyone that Patton has narrated many of King’s Audio Books in recent years. The same care and great work that Patton brings to King’s work is present here. The trio of actors that comprise of the piece Lili Simmons, Wyatt Russell and Vincent D’Onofrio all do excellent work. D’Onofrio in particular with his haunted supporting work is great. Russell and Simmons manage to generate real chemistry though never seen is definitely felt. They are asked to do some of the trickier work in the piece.
This is a great piece of horror fiction uncompromisingly dark and sinister. Those with a taste for intelligent, emotionally resonant material from the genre should jump on this one. The Narrow Caves delivers on the promise of Zahler’s debut feature film. One cannot wait to see what the director is up to next. Be it horror, action, science fiction or a rom com… I for one will be there.