Lore Ep 1: They Made a Tonic #Review

They Made a Tonic

Before we knew how disease spread, medicine was as much superstition as it was science. And in the small New England towns of the 1800s, there is a belief that consumption can only be stopped by making sure the dead are actually dead.

Movie cover for Lore - They Made a Tonic

They Made a Tonic Review


I’ve never listened to the podcast, so I had no idea what to expect from Lore going in.

Episode one, They Made a Tonic, talks about the prevalent fear of being buried alive and medicine in the late 19th century. It starts with the tale of a true story in which this actually happened. This section is done in a dark, yet interesting animation style with a halting narration. Thereafter it switches to a period piece (non-animation) overlaid with occasional narration by Aaron Mahnke, who was the originator of the Lore podcast.

I can’t say I particularly care for Aaron Mahnke’s narration. It sounds very stilted at times, like he is carefully and nervously reciting from written notes. He would definitely benefit from a few speech classes. I can’t imagine just having his voice and no visuals. I wouldn’t have made it ten minutes.

I felt for the father, wonderfully played by Campbell Scott. The situation he was placed in was a desperate one, and you couldn’t really blame him for placing hope where he did. Especially considering the time that he was living in. And when this leads to the exhumation of his family, you can tell exactly how much it all bothers him. He leans towards medicine and science, but when you’re desperate to find a way to save what/who you can…

When it finally gets to the line that makes the title of the episode, I was completely grossed out. I can handle a lot of stuff, and have read a lot about medicine from this earlier times, but…eww. Just eww. Immediate “Oh, my god. No. NO NO NO.” revulsion.

Interesting tidbit: “Saved by the bell” comes from this paranoia of being buried alive and one of the ‘life-savers’ that an inventor patented at that time.

Spoiler Tidbit

It is amusing (and incredibly frustrating and sad) that even today, people cling to beliefs that remedies for actual illnesses can lie in the realm of the supernatural. No matter how much things change, some stuff remains the same. I think as long as religion continues to be a part of society, these foolish beliefs in the supernatural’s ability to fix something will continue.

I feel like the animation was very well done. The way they did the special effects and illustrated certain things was nice. The whole episode had a dark feel to it, and that was enhanced by the art.

Overall, They Made a Tonic was very interesting and well-done. The only thing I didn’t care for for was the narration, but with subtitles on it’s amazingly easy to ignore Mahnke’s voice.

Buy Link: Amazon

4 thoughts on “Lore Ep 1: They Made a Tonic #Review

  1. I have watched 5 of the episodes and they are all fascinating, particularly the mix of actual document and the fictionalizations. I know what you mean about the narrator, though. I’m not sure if it is also meant to make it sound like an old TV or radio program, as the whole style is like that. Thanks, Lilyn.

    1. I have listened to the actual podcast of Lore and the narrator speaks much, much better. He’s still not a ‘perfect’ narrator but much less awkward than the show. I don’t know why there’s such a difference between the two. The podcasts are very interesting and seem to be pretty well researched.

  2. Is it narrated by the same guy who does the podcast? I haven’t listened to it either but most I have are a bit informal sounding so perhaps it’s because it was written for regular narration and they were a bit more nervous?

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