Channel Zero is Syfy’s stake in the modern revival of the horror anthology format. However, it’s somewhat more unconventional than its peers in that each season is an adaptation of a creepypasta.
For those of you not in the know, creepypasta is an internet phenomenon, taking its name from the term ‘copypasta’ - a specific type of meme whereby people share bodies of copied and pasted text around the web. ‘Copy-paste-a’, get it? Creepypasta is the same, but creepy.
Season One of Channel Zero adapts ‘Candle Cove’, one of the most iconic creepypastas to date. The original short is written in the form of a series of message-board posts, as its users reminisce about a scary children’s show from their youth. As far as short stories go, it’s got everything; originality, a genuinely unnerving concept and a killer twist.
That said, if you’ve read it, you might now be questioning how such a short story could possibly sustain an entire season of television. Seemingly, the makers of Channel Zero were savvy enough to realise that it probably can’t. The show saves direct adaptation for a small handful of scenes in the first episode. The rest of the series, very wisely, opts to use the story as a springboard rather than simply attempting to pad it out.
Series creator, Nick Antosca, has said that he wants the series to feel like the nightmare you have after reading the short story rather than a straight-forward adaptation in its own right. That’s exactly what this is; it’s a compelling mystery built from the questions the story raises and true to the horror it evokes. The bulk of the show feels like a love-letter to the more outlandish horror movies of the ‘80s combined with the works of Stephen King. Think Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but good.
That’s not to say that the show is perfect. Whilst much of it is great, the acting and dialogue can be inconsistent, and the pacing of the first couple of episodes suggest that the show might have benefited from a 30-minute runtime.
Yet, what Channel Zero lacks in finesse, it more than makes up for with an abundance of inventive and downright eerie imagery. Throughout the show, you’re bombarded with visual nightmare-fodder ranging from dead-eyed skeleton puppets all the way to a being made entirely out of teeth.
Channel Zero comes to us from a surprising amount of behind-the-camera talent. Atosca is joined on the writing staff by Don Mancini (creator and writer of the Child’s Play franchise), whilst human-marmite, Max Landis, serves as executive producer.
Season One is presented very nicely, with crisp clean visuals and audio, but the special features are, sadly, somewhat lacking. We’re treated to an extensive interview with Antosca, but other than that, all we get is some clean Candle Cove footage, as watched by characters in the show, misattributed as ‘deleted scenes’. Features aside, Channel Zero is a must-watch for horror aficionados – especially those familiar with the world of creepypasta. The show was renewed for a third and fourth season earlier this year, so you’ll want to catch up as soon as possible.
Extras: Deleted scenes / Interview
CHANNEL ZERO - SEASON ONE: CANDLE COVE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: ABIGAIL PNIOWSKY, KEENAN LEHMANN, AMY FORSYTH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW