If you are a fan of scary stories you’ll already be aware of Creepypastas on the Internet, even if you didn’t know that was what you are reading. Channel Zero is a show that is born out of these made up but disturbing stories, with the first season based on Candle Cove.
When child psychologist Mike Painter (Paul Schneider) decides to visit his home town he re-opens old wounds for his family. Haunted by the disappearance of his twin brother in 1988 he decides to start investigating what happened. When an old television show, Candle Cove begins to show again, it appears to have an effect on the children of the town, much like the show did in 1988.
The idea of television shows having subliminal messages behind them is nothing new, but Candle Cove takes it to the next level. With the hint that something (or someone) is coming, it is no coincidence that everything is happening when Mike returns, because the mystery is very much all about him.
Channel Zero, or at least this first season is a slow burner, so much that it can feel a chore at times to watch. Give it the time it needs though and the mystery begins to unfold, and most importantly it gets more disturbing as it goes along. Creepy clown puppets and creatures that are made of teeth are perfect for horror. They are just unusual, and it goes without saying a monster made of teeth that actually eats them too? Just the thought of that is enough to give you nightmares.
While the idea of subliminal messages in television shows has been seen in shows like X-Files, that is because the urban legend exists, and that is what a Creepypasta works on. It works on a believable situation and a story that spreads by word of mouth. While they aren’t exactly the easiest of stories to bring to screen, Candle Cove has been adapted well and it works.
While the season may be slow, it is nice to see that Channel Zero is focused on just one story. Giving a tale like Candle Cove a chance to breathe over six episodes means that nothing needs to be rushed over. The feeling of impending doom can be worked on, and the reveal of the truth behind what is going on can slowly crawl into the audience’s brain and then creep them out.
The fact that it also ends on a satisfying note is well done. Hopefully the story isn’t revisited in future seasons though. The whole point is to tell the Creepypasta story, then move onto the next. Even if it leaves you still wanting answers, the creepiest stories never have to feel fully complete. Leave it on a creepy note, and move on.
If Channel Zero continues with the same quality into future seasons, this is definitely a show for horror fans to keep an eye on. Focused on being true horror, and with a relatable edge, it may not scare you, but will definitely leave you unsettled, which will have a longer lasting effect than a cheap jump scare.
Channel Zero: Candle Cove is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.