Review: ‘Channel Zero’ Scares You With Nostalgia
I realize that this has ALL the warning signs. It’s produced by Max Landis and airs on the SyFy channel, but I’m here to tell you “Channel Zero” is awesome!
Like me you may have first noticed “Channel Zero” in those quick little ads before a YouTube video. While house sitting for my brother I took the opportunity to watch the series since it was only 6 episodes long. It’s based on creepypasta stories from the internet, one per season to be exact. This first season is based on “Candle Cove.”
CINEMATICS (PLOT, ACTING, CINEMATOGRAPHY, ETC.) – 4
The story is about a child psychologist named Mike Painter who when he was a boy watched this odd show called Candle Cove. It was a bizarre show with puppets about pirates like something out of a Sid and Marty Croft Production. During this time there were murders going on with many of the children. It ended when his twin brother died and the show went off the air. He feels compelled to return to his hometown. When he does, strange behavior by the kids begins soon followed by murder and disappearances. Mike must figure out the reason and its connection to Candle Cove while suspicion builds on him and his return.
Mike Painter is played by Paul Schneider. You may know him best as Mark Brendanawicz from the first 2 seasons of “Parks and Recreation.” While I really liked his character, I know many were happy to see him leave the show. I think he seems better suited here than in a comedy. The other actors are all fine. The child acting (of which there is a lot) is also fine. I don’t know if it really was twins playing Mike and his brother, but they were fine. It’s a little strange they’re rather Hispanic looking whereas Paul Schneider as their older self is decidedly NOT, but that’s just a funny little thing to notice. We also get Fiona Shaw as his mother who has a wonderful arc and some badass moments.
This is a SyFy production and as such feels very low-budget. Although the makers seemed to be good at lighting and picking good locations. It felt like they knew how to stretch their budget. With the show itself (Candle Cove) they did a really good job making it look like some old 70s show. The techniques to create the effects all seemed very authentic and I imagine it was a blast to make. The only thing that doesn’t seem to match is the Horace Horrible puppet. There’s just something about it that looks very modern about the design. With the obvious scars it looks too overtly creepy whereas the others find a good balance of looking disturbing, but still like something that was made for a kids show.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE – 4.5
From the first episode the mystery really draws you in. Just based on that first episode I had to know where it was going. I can’t say that I’m completely satisfied where it all goes as I was more interested in some aspects, but the ride to get there was great. I wasn’t scared as very few things scare me and I definitely wouldn’t expect a TV show to do so, but it did creep me out a bit. It helps that it plays on the idea of something creepy hiding out in your own home which I find especially creepy. Another thing they capture is how I think everyone can relate to having in the recesses of your mind an old show that you barely remember. My very first memory is some sort of animation that started at the beginning of a tape. It was a kid walking to school down in a sketchy animation style like the Take Me On music video. There are a bunch of other shows from my childhood that I can barely remember and even with the internet can’t find.
The Tooth Child is one of the most interesting designs for a monster ever. Such an unbelievably striking image. Which is what makes it such a bummer that this creature, the thing that got me to watch the show, is barely in it. So why is this? Why create such a cool image and not show it? And when it is on the show it barely does anything. Well it turns out it’s thanks to our good old friend rights issues! The creepypasta that this is based on is owned of course by its author. So they don’t make any money off of branding the Candle Cove characters which is what you’d expect them to use. This Tooth Child isn’t from the story and thus owned by SyFy and thus they can use it as their identifying image.
REWATCHABILITY – 3
I don’t think I have any plans to sit down and watch “Channel Zero again, but if the chance does come up I could see myself doing it.
- Entertainment Value
Since I didn't discover the original story until after I finished the show, I don't know what someone who was a fan of “Candle Cove” would think of it. I personally found the show to be both creepy and the mysteriously engaging. By tapping into universal childhood fears the show really grabs you. It made me feel nostalgic for something that obviously (and thankfully) never happened to me. I'd say if you're in the mood for a good mood piece then turn on “Channel Zero.” I give it 4 stars out of 5.
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