The highly anticipated Channel Zero: Candle Cove premiered on SyFy with “You Have to Go Inside.” Mike Painter, a child psychiatrist goes back to his hometown after having a psychotic episode. 28 years previously his identical twin brother went missing, along with four other children, but he was never found.
Mike is convinced the disappearances were caused by an old kid’s show he and his brother Eddie, used to watch; Candle Cove. According to an old friend’s kid, the show is airing again. After a welcome home dinner, Katie, the sheriff’s daughter goes missing.
Based on the Kris Straub unsettling creepypasta.com short story web site and the television series is as un-nerving as the tale told by Straub on his site.
Painter has a dream at the start of the season’s first episode and it is creepy and disturbing. He then heads home to Iron Hill, Ohio and visits his mother in what is obviously the first time in years. His mother Maria welcomes him and he goes to visit the town sheriff, Gary Yolen, an old childhood friend.
After some awkward small talk, Mike asks for the files on the five missing children. He is writing a book, he says, and Gary asks if it will be respectful. Mike replies in the affirmative and the sheriff says he will hand over the official files.
Mike and Gary talk about the kids whose bodies were found and Painter reminds the sheriff that their teeth were missing. The sheriff then invites his old friend to dinner.
The entire episode has a creepy dreamlike quality so it is never easy to watch. Painter himself is a bit unsettling and this adds to an overall sense of foreboding.
Mike’s “obsession” is with the puppet show Candle Cove. His friends remember it as well, although his mother swears that Mike and his brother Eddie made it up. She says they used to watch static on the television.
The memories that Painter has of the his childhood home are not pleasant. Eddie having a finger broken by the neighborhood bully and watching the TV show afterward is a disturbing flashback.
Painter has weird dreams and he tells his mother that Iron Hill has been calling him. Before he arrived in the town, Painter carved “Mike Come Home” into his arm. Painter then checks himself into a sanitarium.
When he checks out he heads to Iron Hill.
After Katie Yolen goes missing, Mike becomes a suspect. He helps the Yolen’s look for their daughter while having more flashbacks. Finally he asks Katie’s brother Dane where she went. The boy tells Mike she went to the crow’s nest.
Mike goes to find her, armed with a kitchen knife, and spots a full sized puppet figure, “jaw-bone.” As Mike gingerly reaches toward the figure to touch it, the “puppet” grabs his arm. Mike cuts the thing and it runs off.
Painter chases it and the puppet disappears. He then heads to the crow’s nest and finds Katie. He picks the girl up and takes her home. Katie leaves two teeth behind her and a creature covered in teeth retrieves them.
Before Mike finds the girl, he has another flashback of children hanging upside down in a tree and a boy falling off the side of the crow’s nest.
Mike starts to leave but after a call from his dead brother and Katie’s mother asking for his help, he returns home.
The “show within a show” the Candle Cove kid’s puppet show is damned creepy looking. The “human” character, has a face that looks one step away from breaking into tears.
Looking like a bargain basement type of Gerry Anderson show, with puppets that are scary and unsettling, this thing is the stuff nightmares are made of.
The tooth thing is also disturbing enough to haunt viewers’ dreams. Candle Cove feels a little like the old Clutch Cargo cartoons. These things were also creepy as hell, because the “toons” and real mouths. Candle Cove has that same off-kilter feel.
Throughout the first episode there is the feeling that this could be entering “The Turn of the Screw” territory. Even with his friends remembering the television show, it still feels like Mike may be imaging much of what is going on.
This is a splendidly creepy offering from SyFy. Presenting the show in the days preceding Halloween is a case of perfect timing.
Channel Zero: Candle Cove airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in and watch this one with the light on and with someone else in the room.