Geek Review: The Kirlian Frequency (Netflix)

Everyone knows Kirlian, everyone has someone they know in Kirlian, but no one knows how to get there. 

In this small unknown town left off the maps, a solitary radio host broadcasts through the night, recounting bizarre incidences that plague the citizens. The dissonant soundtrack creates a disquieting atmosphere which lures us into the ominous landscape of Kirlian. Slip on a pair of headphones, turn off your lights and immerse yourself in the mysteries surrounding this town in The Kirlian Frequency. 

Emulating a late-night radio talk show, the mini-series centers around a mysterious DJ who claims to provide comfort to the citizens who encounter eldritch entities every night. But outsiders beware, any stranger who enters and disrupts this quaint civilisation will find themselves in quite a predicament. Looming shadows coil around closely guarded traditions, warning off those unlucky (or lucky) enough to set foot upon those grounds. 

Perhaps the mini-series might feel reminiscent of Lovecraftian horror, or even bears similarities to another fictional podcast, Welcome to Night Vale. Viewers will be surprised to find out that it actually predates Night Vale. This Argentinian web series was created by Cristian Ponce. It was first conceived in 2009 but only aired on Vimeo and YouTube in 2017. The series disappeared from all platforms in the middle of 2018 before reappearing on Netflix with English dubbing in 2019. 

Starting off with the crackling of a cassette tape being rewound, the smooth narration of the radio host, voiced by Nicolás Van de Moortele in the Spanish original, cuts in. He welcomes the listeners of this sleepless town, and sometimes introduces guests that he had been lucky enough to procure for the night. The brilliant voice acting is intercut with carefully curated audio designed to create a sinister ambience. At certain parts of the episodes, the narration takes a back seat. Marcelo Cataldo’s retro-electronic synth music then takes over and draws viewers right back into the heart of the tale being spun. 

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The art style of the animation is simple because it consists of characters that resemble motion graphics rather than fully fleshed out designs. The black silhouettes obscure the identities of the characters, creating a nightmarish scene that leaves much to the viewer’s own imagination. This clever combination helps build on the foreboding atmosphere without drawing attention away from the main story. 

Viewers who are fans of puzzling over the intertextuality of various plots would be delighted to find that the intricately woven stories are laced with allusions to many classic horror works and tropes. However, in an effort to avoid spoiling the experience, we will only briefly mention two of them. The first being the trope of the Number of the Beast. This relates to the fact that the radio plays on 96.6FM, with the numbers 6 and 9 together being the unholy number. Secondly, one episode heavily references Stephen King’s legendary works of horror, which will be a joy for any avid reader of his books. There are, of course, many others to puzzle over, but that will be up to the viewers to discern for themselves. 

Each episode is short. The spine-chilling stories reveal just enough to suspend us in dread as each tale winds down to its conclusion. The entire mini-series is only around 50 minutes long in total and can be watched in one sitting or during small breaks throughout the day (or night, if you are brave enough that is). Although the length of the series is ideal to keep one engaged without wearing the viewer out, the shortness of it also leaves us craving for more. 

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The only weak points of the mini-series would be the build-up to the supposed apocalyptic event and the sometimes overly scrambled audio. The show’s advertisement alludes to the fact that the events of Kirlian actually stopped after April 30th 1987. Throughout the series itself, the radio DJ also constantly hints about the upcoming Night of the Comet, creating an apocalyptic log that is never further explained nor explored. Moreover, at certain points, the audio would become muddled, making it hard to understand the events being discussed. It can be assumed that they were trying to mimic radio static noises, albeit it not working out very well. Despite these hiccups, the series was still fantastically put together, with macabre tales giving a new spin to the horror genre, and definitely worth the binge.

Unfortunately, only 5 episodes have been translated and put up so far. Hopefully, we will get to see more creations from them soon! Fair warning, stay at home, keep your doors locked and hope you don’t encounter any strange beings because the police don’t come out at night in Kirlian.

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GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

A unique new twist to the lovecraftian horror genre that horror enthusiasts will definitely enjoy!

Overall
8.6/10
8.6/10
  • Story - 9/10
    9/10
  • Direction - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Characterisation - 8/10
    8/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 9/10
    9/10
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User Review
5 (1 vote)


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