Channel Zero: Candle Cove (2016)

You Have To Go Inside.

Promotional image for Channel Zero: Candle Cove

If the impending EMOJI MOVIE is the lowest form of moving adaptation of the modern meme culture (and I do believe that it will be), then this first season of SyFy Channel original series CHANNEL ZERO can certainly be considered a high point. In the 1980s, a bizarre children’s puppet show called Candle Cove began to broadcast over the airwaves of small town Iron Hills, OH, at a frequency that adults could not see. Coinciding with this pirate programming was a rash of horrible child murders, and when one stopped, so did the other. Now, decades later, Candle Cove is being broadcast again…

The tooth child from Channel Zero: Candle Cove

CHANNEL ZERO: CANDLE COVE was based on a popular creepypasta by internet creator Kris Straub, and it is the stuff of absolute nightmares. There’s a supernatural menace that runs throughout the story, and there is a human threat as well. It is not the narrative itself that will haunt you, though; it is the method in which that narrative is delivered. Something as simple as a long, awkward shot of a fly drowning in a glass of water has the same creepy impact as a quick flash of a child covered head-to-toe in human teeth. One is a very real world scenario while the other is pure dream imagery, but when put together, it can mean only one thing: the nightmare has invaded our waking life.

Series creator Nick Antosca and his team do a great job of steering us through the surreal miasma, offering us enough answers that it never feels bizarre for the sake of being bizarre, but not so many that it loses its mystique. We don’t need everything spelled out for us because the incomprehensible isn’t meant to be understood. This is a ghost story that went from the campfire to the computer screen to the television screen, and as far as I’m concerned, that evolution resulted in pure gold.

Creepy puppet from Channel Zero: Candle Cove

An unusual concept, great performances, haunting imagery, and an atmosphere that is otherworldly will leave you clamoring for more, even when there is no more to be had. For comparison’s sake, imagine STRANGER THINGS with less of the fantastical and more of the suffocating darkness. They are drastically different, and yet remain two sides of the same coin. One is the fantasy, one is the nightmare, and both are among the best genre programming to come out in years.


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