“A horror anthology series that is far greater than the last few American Horror Story seasons.”
Creator: Nick Antosca
Drama/Horror/Mystery (2016 – )
Season Three currently airing on SyFy (as of writing)
American Horror Story, and its creators Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy, appear to have the monopoly on the American horror anthology, despite their show losing its way for the last few seasons; there are strong episodes, don’t get me wrong, but much of it feels forced to fill its ten episode season orders. But a new player has appeared on the field, one whose debut series far outshines any effort made by AHS since the departure of Jessica Lange in 2015.
Created by Nick Antosca; the writer behind, amongst other things, the final episode of Hannibal (AKA one of the best episodes of television of all time), Channel Zero bases its tales on famous internet Creepypasta, to startling effect.
Candle Cove toys with the idea of a surreal children’s television show that has only ever aired during a spate of murders during the 80’s and the effect it has on those who survived its original broadcast. An unusual premise but one that hooked me from the very first episode.
Unlike AHS, a comparison that will always unfortunately haunt this show, Channel Zero: Candle Cove opted for the more slow, methodical type of story telling; taking its time to build a fully fleshed out world through flashbacks and dream sequences. The resulting effect is unsettling in the best way possible. With this slow burn the show is able to slowly ramp up its creepiness, with each episodes closing scene taking the viewer deeper into the pit of despair it has created. One episodes final moments in particular left me aghast at how far Candle Cove was willing to go, forgoing convention to show something truly chilling.
This is one of the main reasons I love anthology series. All bets are off compared to other serialised drama; where-as in other dramas you know a character will be safe no matter what (as their contract is probably in place for another five or so years *COUGHthewalkingdeadCOUGH*) in shows such as Channel Zero no one is ever truly safe, which really adds an extra edge during the more horror-centric scenes.
The writing behind Candle Cove is also superb. With a plethora of surreal events going on the series had me questioning everything throughout, only revealing the answers to my questions in the final episode. The mystery at its core was handled perfectly, often blindsiding me, something a horror drama of this ilk has not done for a very long time.
With season three airing its final episode in the next few days, and an order for a fourth season secured, Channel Zero is managing to live up to the expectations set by its predecessor, and only time will tell if this horror series will be able to surpass AHS to become to new king of anthology horror.