Despite what some misinformed publications may have claimed, 2018 was a fantastic year for horror. From Halloween to Hereditary, there’s no denying that the genre is kicking both financial and critical ass on the big screen. Luckily for us gore-hounds, the same can also be said for horror on Television, as this year we’ve had the pleasure of binging through serialized gems like The Haunting of Hill House and even a divisive yet entertaining season of The X-Files.
However, in the midst of all this scary goodness, there’s one little show that stood out as some of the most under-appreciated horror media of the year. Naturally, I’m talking about SyFy’s insanely creative anthology series, Channel Zero. With four consistently entertaining seasons under their belt, I figured it was about time someone ranked the showrunners’ attempts at bringing the internet’s best CreepyPastas to the small screen.
Of course, I’d still recommend watching the entire show because, unlike almost every other anthology series, Channel Zero has yet to put out a legitimately bad season (and it isn’t hard to marathon four six-episode-long yarns, either). Nevertheless, not all stories are created equal, so here we go!
4. “No-End House”
The eponymous CreepyPasta may have served as more of an introduction to the freaky concept of an infinite haunted house, but the Channel Zero team did their best to expand this simple tale into a serialized existential nightmare that could hold viewers’ attention for six episodes. Featuring the talents of Amy Forsyth (one of several things this season has in common with the recent Hell Fest film) and John Carrol Lynch, No-End House deals with complex issues like grief and loss within a supernatural horror mystery.
While the season offers well-developed characters and a terrifying premise, I still find it to be the show’s weakest story so far. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely not a bad season of television, but I feel that the pacing is inexcusably slow for six episodes, and there are several plot threads that could have been handled better.
Even so, No-End House still boasts a sizable fanbase that defends it as their favorite CreepyPasta adaptation, and even I have to admit that the heartbreaking finale still packs quite a punch.
3. “Candle Cove”
The season that started it all, Candle Cove is arguably the most internet-influenced segment of the series, chronicling the lasting effects of a cursed children’s show and the nostalgic conspiracy surrounding it. Not only was Candle Cove a pioneer in horror television, but it also introduced us to the insanely terrifying Tooth Child, an iconic monster that would become the face of Channel Zero until it would eventually be dethroned a few seasons later.
Following a traumatized child psychologist as he investigates the titular children’s program that haunts a small town, Candle-Cove may be a bit too slow at times, but the chilling atmosphere mostly makes up for that, with a compelling main mystery and some genuinely frightening sequences (not to mention some kick-ass cinematography) to boot.
Candle-Cove may have been a great story to start the show with, but this is one scary formula that would only improve as it was refined in future seasons.
2. “Butcher’s Block”
With all the fuss over The Dream Door this Halloween season, many viewers forgot that we’d already seen a full season of Channel Zero earlier this year in the form of Butcher’s Block. Based on Kerry Hammond’s Search and Rescue Woods, Butcher’s Block uses this internet legend as more of a jumping-off point to tell its own sordid tale featuring cannibalistic cults and eldritch gods.
This season once again benefits from fantastic casting, featuring Holland Roden and Olivia Luccardi as tragic yet compelling protagonists, and the legendary Rutger Hauer in one of his best villainous performances ever. While the story might be a bit too wild for some viewers this time around, mostly due to a confusing yet spellbinding script and some of the ever-present pacing issues, the fascinating mythology and likable characters make this a must-watch for any horror fan.
If that’s not enough to convince you, just take a look at the amazingly creative/horrific gore effects that help Butcher’s Block earn its name.
1. “The Dream Door”
Considering the attention we’ve been giving it these past few months, I don’t think anyone’s going to be surprised with The Dream Door being in first place here. Nevertheless, the widespread praise is well deserved, as this is some of the craziest and most fun programming that I’ve seen in years, and totally unlike anything else on television right now.
The Channel Zero team chose a relatively tame story (at least for CreepyPasta standards) to inspire their latest season, and transformed it into something completely unique. Part relationship drama, part slasher and part balls-to-the-wall fantasy, the sheer creativity behind all this is already more than enough reason to check this season out.
Of course, I haven’t even mentioned the show’s iconic new monster, Pretzel Jack! Played by real-life contortionist Troy James, Jack is equally lovable and unnerving as he murders his way through the story (and into viewer’s hearts) as the show progresses.
In all honesty, there’s no reason for any of you to not have seen this season yet, especially with the entire series now streaming on Shudder (it’s also available on SyFy’s official website). I can only hope that the show gets renewed so that we can see more crazy stories like this one in the future.