The weekly podcast Ruined is hosted by comedians and best friends Alison Leiby (who is very scared of horror movies) and Halle Kiefer (who loves them). Each Ruined episode features Kiefer giving the play-by-play of a popular, classic and/or extremely trashy horror movie to Leiby, with the pair adding their own hilarious commentary, offering their personal insights and, at the end, weighing in on whether scaredy cats can actually watch the movie scream-free or if they are right to skip the scares and head right to the online synopsis.
It’s an absolute blast to hear, and it’s just as much fun for fans of horror as it is for those who are terror-averse. Whether they’re talking about your favorite movie or just one that you’re curious about, the back-and-forth banter between Leiby and Kiefer will have you giggling as they discuss the in and outs and splats and scares of everything from The Thing to Ready or Not. I hopped on the phone with the pair behind Ruined just as they were finishing their Halloween series, dedicated to some of Kiefer’s favorite movies, and asked how they came together.
“I feel like it’s been lost in the sands of time, but I do have a memory of hanging out with Alison at an open mic nine years ago,” recalls Kiefer. “Both of us were just in New York, writing and doing stand up and storytelling. We gravitated together and became friends.”
It’s hard to make the leap from professional acquaintance to actual friend, says Leiby, saying that they were “sort-of friends” for a while, due to the fact that they were both in stand up, both writers, and knew a million folks in common – pursuing the same professional goals, essentially. Though the pair have been friends for a while, the podcast is very new, not having yet passed the two month mark. Was it brought about because Kiefer has explained so many movies to Leiby, they figured they might as well get it on-mic?
“Absolutely yes,” Kiefer replies. “I’m someone who likes to tell anyone who will listen the plot of a movie, and there’s definitely a distinct pleasure in explaining a horror movie to someone who would never see it because they’re too scared. Alison, being a very nice friend, would let me tell her all these movies.”
“Halle would just tell me the plot of all these movies,” Leiby continues. “It was just part of the tapestry of our Gchat conversations. Also, because I will genuinely never see these movies, I was like, ‘This is great. This solves a lot of problems for me: I get to see the movie without seeing the movie.’”
It seemed like a no-brainer, Leiby says, because they’re friends who chat all the time anyway. I propose that it goes one step further and acts as a public service because, even being a huge horror fan myself, there are movies which are a bridge too far for even me, and Ruined is way better than reading a Wikipedia plot summary. Kiefer’s recaps really convey the action and interactions within whatever film the podcast is doing.
“Halle is Wikipedia,” Leiby agrees. “These are really thorough.”
Kiefer’s theory about horror movies likens them to Titanic: you know that, at the end, the boat sinks, but that doesn’t mean you’ve seen the movie. She’s trying to evoke the fun and scariness of watching a horror movie in a way that’s not as painful as making Leiby go see Hereditary in the theater might be. That said, Leiby is still spooked by the very idea of some of these films.
“You definitely keep it as light as humanly possible, but these are still terrifying to me,” she says to Kiefer. Despite her co-host’s thorough and intriguing – and thoroughly intriguing – recaps, Leiby is not down to catch these films at all.
“Hereditary is a great example,” Lieby offers. “Everybody was talking about it when it came out, I knew I would never see it, and I desperately did want to know what happened: why is everyone talking about this and why is it so much scarier than other stuff?”
There are definitely movies that Lieby needs to hear about – especially ones which frequently pop up in culture – so that she can understand pop culture references.
“I’m usually, ‘I think I understand this,’ but I don’t,” she says with a laugh. “This fills in a lot of holes for me. So much of [horror], I have no idea about, so that’s where Halle’s expertise and depth of knowledge comes in.”
“I’m selfish, because I want everyone to have watched exactly what I watch, so we can discuss it,” Kiefer says of her role on Ruined. “And, I get to see her reaction when she hears this horrible thing, which is very fun.”
You can find more information about Ruined and subscribe to the podcast at Radio Point.