Sunday, September 25, 2022

REVIEW: Channel Zero, Season 1: Candle Cove (live action TV series)

Channel Zero is a horror anthology series that aired on Syfy. I bought my copy of this first season used.


Mike Painter is a child psychologist who hasn't been back to his hometown in years, not since his twin brother became one of the victims of a serial killer targeting children. Most of the victims were discovered in a forest, missing their teeth. Mike's brother Eddie was the only child never found.

After some kind of psychotic break forces Mike to take some time away from his wife and young daughter, he decides to go back to his hometown and face the memories he tried to leave behind. His relationship with his mother is awkward, and tensions rise between him and a few other local residents when his arrival seemingly prompts the killer from 1988 to reappear. People think Mike and/or his family may have something to do with the killings, but Mike insists that the true thing linking them all together is a children's TV show called Candle Cove. It only aired during the killings in 1988, and for some reason local children are starting to see it on TV again.

This first season of the show was based on a creepypasta story by Kris Straub, which can be found here. I enjoyed the story and wanted to watch this show but wasn't sure how well it would work for me. Now that I've finally seen it...meh.

I'm a horror wimp. My preferences run more towards "creepy and atmospheric" rather than "gory and truly scary," and there's also only so much creepiness I can take before I have to take a break. This show...did not hit my maximum, ever. I'm not sure what the issue was. The acting? The pacing? Whatever it was, for some reason watching this wasn't nearly as stressful as I'd expected.

There were some genuinely creepy moments, but I think part of the problem was that, after a while, I recognized that the creepiest moments were always either dreams or hallucinations. They were scary for the characters, but they almost never had any kind of lasting effect. There were also a few bloody moments, for the most part shot in ways that didn't bother me too much.

Most of the characters hit pretty much the same emotional notes all the time. Mike was soft-spoken and often looked like he was holding back a sad, wry smile, which I kept expecting to go over very badly with certain characters. Mike's mother always looked sad and vaguely horrified, so there were times when I thought she was reacting to something that was going on when, in fact, she just looked like that.

I liked the designs for the Skin-Taker's true form, and the Tooth Child was kind of disturbing. There was definitely a truly creepy show in here somewhere, but at some point during the execution it got lost. I doubt I'll be trying Season 2 of this series.


There were "bonus" scenes, but as far as I could tell, they were just repetitions of the Candle Cove show snippets. They didn't seem to be deleted or extended scenes, so I'm not sure why they were separated out like that, and there was no writer or director commentary to provide context.

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