Season 1 Episode 1
‘They Made A Tonic’
Lore, based on the popular podcast series by Aaron Mahnke, tells the true stories that prompted the folklore and fiction that we enjoy today. The episode starts with an animated feature about the death of Mary Hart, who was believed to be dead and after she was buried, her aunt began having strage dreams of her screaming and struggling to escape her coffin. After begging the church to dig up the grave, her suspicions were proven to be true. Mary had died of terror after violently trying to scratch her way out of her coffin.
Mahnke narrates the stories, the same way he does with the podcast of the same name. The next part of the episode is about the advances in medical science and some of their dark origins. One of the stories is about George Brown (Campbell Scott) a rural farmer in Rhode Island in 1882. George is a simple man, desperate to find out what sickness is affecting his oldest daughter. After her death, George’s oldest son is afflicted and he is sent off for treatment in Colorado. While he is there, George’s youngest daughter dies.
In the story, as the mystery begins to unravel, Mahnke pauses to tell the viewer about the history of procedures people during that time would use to verify death as a certainty including cuts to the bottom of the feet, beetles placed in a corpse’s ear and special coffins developed to alert when someone was buried alive.
When his son returns, he almost immediately falls ill again and friends of George convince him that it isn’t illnedd afflicting his children, but a demon. At first Geroge is unconvinced, but as his son gets worse, he begins to give into superstition. A superstition that leads him to a desparate act to save his son.
The episode is very atmospheric and Mahnke’s narration helps to balance what could be something boring to watch if not put into context. The performances are subtle and effective and the episode itself is scary in a way that isn’t about terror as much as it is about fear of the monsters our imaginations create.