Silverwood: The Door, Season 1 (A Serial Box Original)
Publisher: Serial Box | Release Date: Oct. 3, 2018 | Runtime: est. 13 hours
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
In January 2018, a group of writers — Brian Keene, Richard Chizmar, Stephen Kozeniewski, Michelle Garza, and Melissa Lason, gathered in Arizona to hash out story ideas and concepts for what would become season one of Silverwood: The Door. Based on the YouTube web series, Silverwood, developed by Tony E. Valenzuela, these authors developed an incredibly strong serialized story that, at times, feels like the lovechild of television’s LOST and HP Lovecraft, with plenty of splatterpunk sensibilities along the way.
In the mountains and forests outside the California town of Silverwood, a Cub Scout troop is setting up for a camping trip and the employees of Hirsch Capital are griping about the company retreat to the middle of nowhere. Weekend survival training, a small group of bullys within the Scouts, and the lack of cell phone service are the least of their worries, though. There’s something in the woods — a few somethings, as it just so happens, including a ghost, a serial killer, infectious pollen that drives the campers to murder, and, at the center of it all, a deadly alien force trapped in this dimension.
Even with the band of authors writing Silverwood: The Door, I have to admit I was slightly worried about how this project would turn out. The Door is Serial Box’s first real effort at a horror production, but as a new reader of their publications who is largely unfamiliar with their overall efforts I feared they might demand a watered down, horror-in-name only thriller, something mass market and inoffensive.
Holy fuck, was I ever wrong.
Silverwood: The Door is every bit as visceral and violent — sometimes shockingly so — as its horror authors intended. It’s clear Serial Box trusted these creators to do their thing, and hired them to do what they do well. Whatever concerns I had were properly butchered and my expectations for this serial went well beyond merely satisfied. Although it’s formatted and follows the style of a serialized television series, this isn’t some Hollywood production with executives disrupting creative visions because they think their audience wants the same cut-and-paste crap over and over and over. There’s a clear authorial intent on display in this collaboration, but perhaps more importantly is the shared vision between these creatives and their producers at Serial Box, and the trust that each knows how to play to the strengths of one another. And if I’m wrong about any or all of this collaboration, it’s been covered up insanely well.
Keene and company have crafted a highly engaging, and truly addictive, season of story. Composed of ten episodes, which appeared in weekly installment on Serial Box between October and December, this first season of Silverwood had me good and hooked. I was positively absorbed by this series! Luckily, by the time I got around to listening to the audiobook edition of this show, Silverwood had already wrapped for the season and I was able to binge my way through it, one episode after another. When I wasn’t listening to it, I wanted to be listening to it. If I’d been forced to wait a week between installments, I might have gone insane and killed somebody.
Narrated by Neil Hellegers and Sarah Mollo-Christensen, with sound production from ARS Audio, Silverwood: The Door is wonderfully immersive. Hellegers and Mollo-Christensen each deliver an excellent reading of the material, exhibiting a range in voices and styles that complement one another well and make each of the characters distinct. The Door would have been an excellent audiobook with only the voice talents of these two narrators, but Serial Box ups the ante by producing episodes complete with a score and sound effects. The dramatization of these author’s words is top-notch, and is amplified further with the addition of an aural landscape. As campers slaughter one another and flee through the woods, we get to hear the leaves crunching beneath their feet, the noise of stabbings, screams of pain, the burbling of a creek, and the crackling of fire. Although Serial Box provides the episodes in both text and audio, listening to the material is my preferred route simply because of the richness it provides. It’s a true enhancement to the story itself and really takes the production as a whole to the next level.
While it’s based off the YouTube series of the same name, I was totally unfamiliar with the Silverwood brand or its concepts. I went into this work blind, knowing little about it beyond the authors involved. In fact, it was because of the authors involved that I bought this season in the first place. Money damn well spent, I’d say, and Keene and his writers made sure that no prior knowledge of Valenzuela’s Silverwood was necessary. The Door functions perfectly well as a stand-alone, but it did most definitely pique my curiosity about what’s been happening on YouTube and I plan on watching that show soon. All of a sudden I need more Silverwood in my life, and hopefully the online show will help fill the void while I wait for season two of the Serial Box series.
And damnit, there better be a season two!