Review of Granny: A Ghost Story of the North Carolina Mountains

Horror Audio Drama - GrannyGranny, A Ghost Story of the North Carolina Mountains
By Steven Wilson, performed by Prometheus Radio Theatre
1 CD – 30 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Prometheus Radio Theatre
Published: 2004
Themes: / Ghosts / Southern History /

“If the Lord spares my life, I’ll be back here Saturday,” Granny had said when she left. The Lord didn’t spare her life, but Granny still came back. What unfinished business kept her from her rest? Her twelve-year-old granddaughter, Hannah, was determined to find out. Based on a true story.

According to Steven Wilson, the director, Granny, A Ghost Story of the North Carolina Mountains is based on a story that his grandmother swore “to her dying day” was true. In fact, as a bonus at the end of the radio show, Mr. Wilson shares a clip of his grandmother telling the tale.

Listening to it, I could understand why it kept him awake at nights as a child. Sadly, that sense of creeping chill was not translated to this production. While Steven Wilson and Ethan Wilson turn in creditable performances and Cindy Woods does a nice job as the young Hannah, the rest of the cast are as stiff in their reads as if this were their first time in front of a microphone.

As if in an attempt to compensate for the lackluster performances, the foley effects are so loud that they at times almost overwhelm the dialogue. The show is filled with footsteps, creaking rocking chairs, and an unending parade of insect life which do nothing to enhance any of the action. Indeed, most of the time it was a distraction. At one point, Papa and Hannah were talking and I had to strain to understand what was happening and finally realized that Papa had stirred the fire, walked across the room and sat in the world’s creakiest rocking chair. None of which had anything to do with the story, or the dramatic tension in the scene; it was foley for the sake of foley.

There are some nicely eerie moments, such as when the family first hears the ghost of Granny crooning “Amazing Grace” in the chimney. I wish the rest of the show were half as effective.

Posted by Mary Robinette Kowal

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