Channel Zero – Review ***

Channel Zero 3

Today is arguably the strongest age ever for TV series. The number of channels on terrestrial, satellite and digital platforms vying to find their own niche was accompanied by an increasing programme quality covering many tastes and genres. The downside is that with so many options, some get overlooked and lost in the mix. SyFy channel series Channel Zero is undoubtedly among those shows, earning acclaim whilst not drawing the viewership. Now that is being released on a physical media, will it manage to reach the wider audience?

This first season entitled Candle Cove focuses on Mike Painter (played by Paul Schneider of Parks & Recreation), a child psychologist who as an adolescent had his twin brother disappear without trace under mysterious circumstances during a spate of child murders in Ohio. He returns to his hometown to try and get answers to this unsettled mystery, the starting point to uncomfortable discoveries and modern day similarities, with seeming links to a TV show that aired during both time periods.

Channel Zero

In regards to performances, the stand out is Schneider. His motives are clear for what he is doing and why he is doing it, making him relatable and emphatic as a character. This, however, is offset by some slightly less convincing performances from his co-stars which can be extremely jarring at times. The time period (the 80s)  is apt and well conveyed, but it does not fall in the Stranger Things or IT territory, which would be out of tone from the rest of the show. The plot can get confusing at parts and not entirely fleshed out (the basis of the show is taken from a ‘creepypasta’ post, infamous now because of the Slender Man incidents) which can be frustrating at times and stop the viewer from complete emotional investment.

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The show in itself is a slow build, both unsettling and mostly restrained, in a time where many shows are about instant gratification (such as American Horror Story, which is almost the polar opposite end of the spectrum). Channel Zero does play out like a Stephen King book (not a Stephen King screen adaptation which is a completely different animal!) with the steady progression of both narrative and stakes which amps up with each episode. Whilst this may not be entirely original, with numerous tropes throughout and a slightly underwhelming conclusion, it should be considered as a welcome addition to any horror genre fans looking for a change of pace in their TV viewing.
Channel Zero: Candle Cove is released on DVD & Blu-ray on 30 October.

 

Colin is an Essex boy now living in the leafy suburbs of Twickenham. Previously he was news editor and contributor for popular music webzine Drownedinsound. A self-confessed geek, favourite films include A Few Good Men & Hercules Returns and hopes that, one day, Ski Patrol will be released on Blu-ray.