SyFy’s Channel Zero
Season 1, Episode 1: “You Have to Go Inside”
Directed by Craig William Macneill
Written by Nick Antosca
Based on the story by Kris Straub
* For a review of the next episode, “I’ll Hold Your Hand” – click here
SyFy’s new series is based on the stories from popular horror website Creepypasta, so it’ll be curious to see if they unsettle all of us in the same way.
Dr. Mike Painter (Paul Schneider) is man who has seen his share of tragedy. At twelve, in 1988, his twin brother was missing, a part of the Iron Hill Murders when several children disappeared. So Mike hasn’t been back since. Appearing on a television talk show promoting his latest book, he ends up talking with a young boy over the phone, one who’s experienced a tragedy, too. The boy is silent until he starts laughing eerily. “Why are you scared to come home?” the boy asks after a television show’s music plays in the background.
Except everything seems… dream-like. Or nightmarish, better yet. And then Mike wakes up after the image of a strange burning straw-type person, walking through a dark hallway.
Of course Mike has to revisit his hometown, so the memories flood in quick on him. Then his mother Marla (Fiona Shaw) is surprised when she sees him show up. She evidently hasn’t seen him for a long, long time. Marla filled her life with other kids after her son left, obviously her other boy Eddie gone, no husband around anymore. “I hope you haven‘t come to rip open a wound,” she tells him. People come around Iron Hill every so often to try putting a lid on the murders and she assumed he would, eventually.
Over at the police station, Mike meets with Sheriff Gary Yolen (Shaun Benson), someone he knew once upon a time when they were much younger. Now Mike wants to look at the files on those murders. We get a slight bit more information – 28 years ago, the missing kids were found dead in the woods, in a tree, without teeth. The obligatory invite to dinner after coming back to town is extended from Gary, his wife Jessica (Natalie Brown). And Mike reluctantly goes. Lots of talk around the table, about kids and how dangerous – or less dangerous – things are today. Gary apparently worries about his kid, as well. Thinks he’s “growing up a little bit strange.” Says that his boy Dane is obsessed with David Bowie. Hilarious. Turns out that Mike and Jessica were actually close, along with his brother Eddie. Old times get brought up, a little bit of awkwardness. Y’know, dinner parties!
Upstairs, little Katie watches a television show. But something interrupts a moment, the static giving way to a brief but terrifying image. When Mike happens by her, she only says: “It went away.” This looks to really shake Mike up. He heads downstairs and talks about the old kids TV show Candle Cove; that Katie was watching. Jessica, Gary, a bunch of them talk about the show. Until Mike can’t handle it anymore and has to leave.In a flashback, young Mike watches his brother Eddie confront some kids. One of whom insults Eddie for being abandoned by his father. Kids pin him down then nearly snap off a couple of his fingers as his brother watches on. Vicious. At home, the boys witness Candle Cove on the television. What a goddamn eerie show.
Sleeping on the couch, Mike finds the TV turn on by itself. When he gets up to shut it off, a voice speaks to him from the darkness. A strange thing lurks just beyond his line of sight. Or is it all another dream? Poor Mike, I say. Seems he was doing some sleepwalking and ended up elsewhere. He talks to his mother about recent nightmares, although she’s still not clear about why’s actually back home after all these years. Maybe she just doesn’t want to admit it, she must know.
Things start to get worrisome when Jessica can’t find her daughter Katie at home. Uh oh. At a diner, she finds Mike to start help looking. Everyone available is out searching. Bad memories for everybody must be coming up. Speaking of memories, we flashback to Eddie and Mike as their bully sends a nasty dog running after them. Strangely, the dog runs to Mike and calms down completely, eating from his hand. Weird. Back in the present, Mike is in a bit of a strange situation. Jessica asks why he was gone for five hours after dinner, getting home at three in the morning. We also find that Mike was released from a psych ward a few days ago right before going back to Iron Hill. Hmm. Suspicion’s been cast. Even Jessica thinks there’s something wrong now, and Mike can only think to run when she tries alerting her sheriff husband. He goes to speak to Dane, who talks about “the crow‘s nest” and this so obviously spooks him.
Out past the signal tower in the woods, where the bodies were found years ago, there’s a place Mike remembers. It’s marked with a creepy skeleton, like from Candle Cove. When Mike finds it though, someone is in the costume, and gives chase. Yet he does get the skeleton man with a nice knife swipe. Mike loses him and wanders around. We see horrific memories of someone jumping off a cliff, of young Mike stabbed. All sorts of awful things. But luckily, Mike soon comes across little Katie, safe and sound. When they go, a strange and unnerving creature comes out to pick up a couple errant teeth bloody on the ground. What a crazy look to it! I love how we only get a blurred and wide shot of it mostly. Excellent suspense.Everybody’s curious as to how Mike found out where Katie went, Gary particularly. She tells dad it was the show told her where to go. Still, it’s all very confused. She has two teeth gone, so that’s a mystery, as well. For now, though – Mike is a free man. They can’t charge him with anything, and in all likelihood, even though we know nothing for sure right yet, he didn’t actually do anything. One thing Mike picks up on is who might’ve been watching from the woods by his mother’s place the day before.
Better yet, we see that Mike, in his wild psychiatric episode, carved MIKE COME HOME into his arm. A wound he still has to keep putting a bit of cream on every now and then, seeing as how it’s still quite fresh. He’s decided now to leave Iron Hill. He talks to his mother about Candle Cove and whether she’d been it again after he left. She says that it “wasn‘t real” and that he and Eddie would sit watching static: “It was just in your heads.” Oh for fuck sake! As if things weren’t scary enough.
Meanwhile, a couple young boys somewhere else, a girl in her house, a bunch of new kids are being lured by the appearance of Candle Cove. And I’ll bet they’ll soon go missing.
Later during the night, Mike receives a phone call, a boy asking where he’s going: “We‘re just getting started again.”
I absolutely fucking love this show! The first episode is spectacular. So much eeriness, plenty intrigue and nice character development. Not too much exposition yet not too cryptic, either. Wow. Really good stuff from SyFy on this one. Next episode is titled “I’ll Hold Your Hand” and I’m beyond excited!