OCT10 – 2017

CHANNEL ZERO: CANDLE COVE

Before we delve into the first season of the SyFy horror series, CHANNEL ZERO, I want to get something off my chest. Namely, I need to come clean about AMERICAN HORROR STORY, the FX series.

What do I hate about AMERICAN HORROR STORY? Well, pretty much EVERYTHING except the theme song and the cool font they use in the title sequences. AHS, for me, is the single most tone deaf major horror series of all time. The makers seem to think that the best kind of scary show would contain every possible horror trope, all smashed together with no regard for vibe, coherence, or even scariness. If AHS was your significant other, on your birthday they would bake you a seventeen layer cake with twenty different fillings, sprinkles, icing flowers, glazed and then dipped in breading and deep fried, served over a banana split with licorice sauce. In other words, the show’s idea of scary is just to throw weird shit at the wall, mix in some creepy psycho-sexual hijinx, and call it a day.

Can you tell how much I hate that dumb show?

I bring it up because AHS is the series that most closely resembles CHANNEL ZERO: CANDLE COVE, on paper at least, dealing as they both do with one unconnected story per season. Quality-wise, though, CHANNEL ZERO absolutely murders AHS.

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This first season is based on the classic “creepy pasta” (short internet horror story) by Kris Straub. The source material, “Candle Cove”, is one of my all-time favorites, and the show manages to take what is most creepy about it and extrapolate it into a six episode series full of mystery, creepiness, and amazingly unsettling imagery.

The plot revolves around the return of famous child psychologist Mike Painter (Paul Schneider) to his hometown of Iron Hills, 30 years after a series of unsolved child murders that took his twin brother and saw him sent to live with relatives.

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Mike is in rough shape when he returns to his famililial home, and the flashbacks to the bizarre kids television show CANDLE COVE don’t help. It seems that the show ony ran once, during the murders back in 1988, and has never been seen since. Did the creepy-ass pirate puppet show that held the kids of Iron Hills in its thrall even actually exist? If so, how on earth was such a terrifying thing ever made? And why has it popped up again as soon as Mike sets foot back in the town?

There is a LOT to love about this show, from the acting (Schneider is absolutely perfect in the role as is Luisa D’ Oliveira) to the imagery, to the cinematography and direction. All six episodes were directed by Craig William Macneill (who made the feature film THE BOY), which adds a real feeling of stylistic depth to the proceedings. I wish more shows would use a single director, even as I realize it makes things trickier to film.

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I was happily surprised by the quality of this show, and the real scares and creepiness within. I can’t wait to watch Season 2, which is based on the creepy pasta “No-End House”, and is currently playing on SYFY.

***

–BL

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