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[TV Review] Here’s Why You Should Watch “Channel Zero: Candle Cove”!

Creepypastas were once a very niche breed of horror, mostly restricted to the darkest corners of the internet. While many of them weren’t exactly amazing pieces of literature, there were quite a few memorable scary stories that could benefit from a decent adaptation. Luckily, Nick Antosca teamed up with Max Landis and SyFy to provide us with one of the most unexpectedly entertaining television events of the year with the hit new anthology series, Channel Zero. The first season, aptly subtitled “Candle Cove“, adapts Kris Straub’s eponymous creepypasta about a macabre television show that may or may not exist.

The show stars Paul Schneider as Mike Painter, a child psychologist returning to his hometown with the pretense of writing a book about his traumatic experiences there. However, things soon take a turn for the worst as it becomes apparent that the horrifying television show responsible for a string of tragedies in the town’s past is somehow resurfacing. With the help of his estranged mother, played by Fiona Shaw, Mike attempts to uncover the mystery of Candle Cove as he faces ghosts from his own past, all the while facing suspicion from his childhood friends.

Taking a few cues from Stephen King’s It, the story is told through two timelines. One of them follows Mike’s search for the truth in the present day, while the other tells the story of his childhood alongside his deceased twin brother, Eddie. This duality makes the show extremely suspenseful, as Mike’s backstory is told through gradual increments as we progress through the modern portion of the show. Fortunately, Channel Zero doesn’t spend too much time in the past, only resorting to flashbacks when absolutely necessary, in an effort to keep things fresh.

While there are a few deviations from the source material, it’s understandable that there would have to be some changes and expansions considering the short length of Straub’s original story. Most of these changes end up being benefitial to the show, and also make sure that fans of the creepypasta will still be surprised with the conclusion to these six chapters. In fact, the story’s original twist is actually revealed towards the end of the very first episode! Even so, there are a few pacing problems throughout this short season, though the show never quite gets to the point of being uninteresting.

Nevertheless, the phenomenal cast and well-rounded characters more than make up for these shortcomings. From Marla Painter’s conflicted feelings towards her son to Marina Stephenson Kerr as a creepy elementary school teacher with ulterior motives, every single character feels believable and fully developed. My only real complaint is the lack of focus on Mike’s family life, and his relationship with his wife and child. Their scenes felt a bit rushed, and the season finale could have had a bigger impact if we’d been exposed to some more tender moments in earlier episodes.

Visually, Channel Zero is one of the best-looking horror shows on television this year. The cinematography actually puts a lot of modern horror movies to shame, especially during the lingering shots of the Tooth Child and “Jawbone”. The scenes featuring footage from Candle Cove itself were also extremely well shot, with an underlying feeling of dread beneath an apparently child-friendly exterior. This was certainly helped by a subtle yet effective soundtrack that leaves the viewer in a constant state of unease.

Channel Zero: Candle Cove was certainly one of the best surprises in the horror genre this year, and is further proof that television has come a long way in genre storytelling, many times even surpassing the film industry. While last week’s finale might not have pleased everyone, it did feel like a well-earned and satisfying conclusion to the Candle Cove storyline. In any case, I’ll be looking forward to next year’s Channel Zero: No End House, as it seems like this show has a promising (not to mention terrifying) future ahead.

All of Channel Zero: Candle Cove is available for streaming on SyFy’s official website!



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COMMENTS

18 Comments
  • nowaygetreal

    The show was definitely a welcome surprise, especially for a SyFy show. It’s good to see Paul Schneider getting more work.
    Looking forward to No End House.

  • Miranda

    Loved it! This was my favorite horror show this year. It was much better than American Horror Story: Roanoke.

  • J Jett

    the only standout actors on this show are Natalie Brown (THE STRAIN) and Fiona Shaw. the guy playing the lead character Mike is easily one of the worst actors i’ve ever seen (that is not hyperbole). the show has very good creepy atmosphere and the cinematography is wonderful. i do think the storyline was just a SILENT HILL (movie) redo but without being as good as that film. the reveal in the finale is basically just copied from SH. the show is worth checking out but i think some people (i don’t mean this to sound jerky) are making it out to be far better than it actually is. that being said the brief teaser for season 2 makes me think it will be better than season 1.

    • I enjoyed it a lot. I also agree there are major narrative issues, but I felt that what worked, worked really well. There were moments that were far creepier to me than anything I’ve seen in a while. For every moment that had me rolling my eyes (what was with the ominous reveal of the mushroom planter?) there was something that sent a shiver down my spine. It was far from perfect but ambitious enough to keep me coming back for more and hoping season 2 has a bit more finesse.

      • Satanzilla

        Agree 100%

  • To me, this was kind of lackluster. Taking a short story, with many deviations and additions to the story, and stretching it over six episodes severely dulled the creep factor. It was boring and the ending was sorely disappointing.

  • Matt Miller

    I am only in the second episode but it’s been a good surprise. Yeah, the writing is not subtle and the acting not that good (especially the children), but the stand-out is the directing work I think. There’s some artsy touch in the way it’s filmed and the atmosphere is well created, there aren’t those stupid jump scares. Also I liked how they combine both timelines in the protagonist’s perspective.

  • Baron Von Marlon

    Thought it was just ok.
    Wasn’t bad, but wasn’t good either.

  • Jack Derwent

    **possible spoilers**

    Kind of disappointed with the reveal of the “tooth child”. I mean it made sense in some fashion but it also doesn’t explain “why is he made out of teeth” and “why does he eat teeth”. It’s just… ok now he’s a tooth kid that eats teeth.

    • Baron Von Marlon

      Also: he’s the source of his own power and he said he could only appear as monster. Why? You’re your own boss.
      The other monsters felt redundant.
      It all makes sense in the way that it’s little kid logic
      “Why is that, kiddo?” “Because! That’s why.”
      But that’s weak imo.

    • Satanzilla

      Eddie had his tooth knocked out by a bully and so when he manifests his spirit in the world (after Mike kills him) it focuses on teeth. Instead of lacking a tooth he bristles with teeth.

      Eddie has to be seen as a kid with enormous dark power, like a low key version of the Eddie Mumy monster child from the twilight zone. (In fact, his name may not be coincidental.) So he does things as a tween/teen might.

      • Jack Derwent

        Forgot about the knocking out the tooth bit, that makes sense.

  • I really enjoyed Channel Zero’s first series. Admittedly, it wasn’t flawless, but it was an entertaining watch nonetheless.

  • Username

    I think that this shouldn’t have been made. I’m a big fan of the original story and spin-offs that people made based on it (including one that used the ‘Fears’ universe) and this just has no point to me. The whole point(/thing/appeal) of the original story is that Candle Cove doesn’t exist, or just does to the kids that see it. To adults it’s just static. The whole thing(as with most(well-written)) creepypasta is that you’re supposed to not be sure if its real or not.(Of course you are, given that’s it’s fiction, but it’s written in a style as if it really happened to someone.) If someone makes a TV show off of it, given that it’s supposed to be scary because it doesn’t actually exist in video form(you can’t actually see it) just negates the whole thing.
    (Also, there’s the factor(as with a lot of written works) of people seeing it in their own minds and the disparity of how it looks on the screen.)

  • tbaio

    This was a nice surprise. Started slowly then built up really well. Every episode was stronger than the last, the performances were very good & most appreciated…..the ending was very well written (something modern horror stories cant seem to do). Well done & recommended.

  • obabadook

    This tv shows is a gem! a HUGE SURPRISE. Rotten Tomatoes almost gave it 10!

    its a must-watch for all horror fans

  • obabadook

    This tv show is a gem! a HUGE SURPRISE. Rotten Tomatoes almost gave it 100%!

    its a must-watch for all horror fans

  • PINKUS

    I thought it showed promise, but I just couldn’t take it seriously once the tooth child appeared, it just made me laugh. Same goes for the other ghouls – they appeared to be gratuitious. I think it would’ve worked much better utilising more of the suspense/weirdness element akin to ‘Twin Peaks’. Fiona Shaw was a draw, as she’s a great character actor.

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