With the end of September not too long in the future, Halloween is practically just around the corner. Whether you’re waiting for those creepy final days of October or have been celebrating the spooktacular since the Fourth of July ended, for scare aficionados and average people who trawl the internet, one of the easiest ways to catch a scare these days is to read up on some creepypasta. We’ve slightly discussed creepypasta before, but as a refresher, “creepypasta” is typically the name given to scary stories written on the internet, especially by the anonymous hordes who frequent 4Chan. While many of these stories typically devolve into “there was this lost episode of [insert cartoon show] where some character died. Between that there were one frame pictures of various gory scenes, and something about bleeding hyperrealistic eyes,” SyFy seems to have latched onto one of the beloved oldies in hopes of making something truly terrifying for the holiday season. Me? I’m not so sure they can pull it off.
Channel Zero immediately lays out which pasta they’re nibbling from: “Candle Cove”. A tale that’s stood the test of internet time, this creepypasta—formatted in the way of forum posts between a group of people—discusses an old show that the forum’s users remember watching. Candle Cove was a seemingly harmless children’s show, not unlike anything we would have watched when we were kids. However, as the users continue to explore their nostalgia they remember strange things like the unsettling antagonist, the skin taker, and that there was supposedly an episode that consisted of all the characters just screaming. The end reveals that one of the user’s parents told them that while they believed they were watching Candle Cove, they were merely staring at a television screen full of static for thirty minutes.
In Syfy’s Channel Zero, the main character, Mike Painter, has returned to his hometown in order to investigate the disappearances of his twin brother and several other children. It’s implied that Candle Cove could be in some part responsible for these disappearances. This could be an interesting take on the story, but I can’t help but feel that SyFy is kind of missing the point on what made the original creepypasta unsettling to begin with. We all have some childhood memory of witnessing something creepy, so much so that it feels as though it could have merely been a figment of our imagination. (For me, that was the show Weinerville, despite it being shockingly real.) Then to have that memory be not only supported, but corroborated by several other unknown people, only to have it be revealed that, in the end, it was a mass hallucination? That’s unsettling. While I don’t fault SyFy for wanting another reason to make cool monster costumes, having Candle Cove be set up as having real-life repercussions on Channel Zero’s world, not to mention having the experience of the show being narrowed down to one town, takes away a lot of the punch of the original story. Claiming “it’s not just a TV show” is way less scary than admitting that it was just a TV show, but one that didn’t exist.
However, I’m not going to write off Channel Zero just yet. SyFy has already announced a Season 2 to the series—next time looking at the No-End House. I’m not sure if this is them having faith in their series or just being typical SyFy, though. My other misgiving with the series is that it looks painfully white. I will admit that white people are perhaps the most lacking in caution when it comes to dealing with supernatural shit (see: every ghost hunting show on cable television), but it still is lazy. Channel Zero premieres on October 11th at 9/8 central. If you’re a creepypasta buff, or just looking to get in the Halloween spirit, it may be right up your alley.