Channel Zero: Candle Cove is a freaky show.
No, that’s not quite right.
Candle Cove is a slow-moving story interrupted by moments of brain-bending horror. In some ways it is a by-the-numbers tale of something bad that happened to a group of children that starts up again later in life. Stephen King tackled this a few times in his career so far. In 1988 several missing local children were found murdered. What makes this even creepier is the fact that the children were all found stuck in a tree with all their teeth missing. One of the missing children was never found. That boy happens to be the brother of our main character, a child psychiatrist named Creepy McBadtouch.
Actually, he’s a decent guy. So far. But the show needs him to look and seem… off. And he is. His real name is Mike Painter. His brother was never found and is presumed dead along with the kids who were found hanging like Charlie Brown’s kite in the limbs of the Eating Tree. Creepy dreams and suspenseful music drive Mike back to the town of Iron Hill because something is happening. Something bad.
See, in 1988, Mike, his missing brother Tim, and several other kids began watching a weird television show called Candle Cove. It wasn’t in TV Guide. It showed up through the signal of whatever the kids were watching. Like every local kid show ever produced, it featured creepy-AF puppets with goofy-demonic voices and cheap production values. And the show’s characters started appearing in creepier form in real life. And the kids began to disappear.
The show, according to the real world, never existed. Only a few people who ever saw it cutting through the broadcast fuzz remain alive. (One dude made a “fan video” of the show for a reason that continues to elude me.) So none of the dead kids’ families have any idea about it, which makes for serious fun when Mike Painter begins telling them that it was a cartoon that drove them to their nasty end.
The production is moody, suspenseful, and sometimes terrifying. The plot rolls out pretty slow and the relationships are unveiled over the first three episodes, but the creepypasta mythology of Candle Cove is fascinating. When they begin to appear in the material world, it’s like if our Sid & Marty Krofft cartoons returned as LSD flashbacks.
I am intrigued by this SyFy series, but it feels like two shows. It feels like “Candle Cove” is a Lifetime Original Movie where a child psychiatrist with a sad past returns home to his widowed mother and discovers the girl he fell for grew up to marry the stereotypical bad town sheriff and he’s framed for a decades-old crime he didn’t commit to prevent him from sweeping her off her feet again.
And THEN… halfway through the production, Lifetime pulled the plug, allowing the original screenwriter’s metal-head brother to buy the rights and finish it as a Guillermo del Toro movie where all the kids were haunted by life-size nightmare muppets and evil lighting effects.
When we’re in the talky-chat parts, the show loses all speed. But when the freaks come out – holy shit.
For example, there is this small person walking around. He is covered entirely by teeth. Literally, people. From a distance, it is the embodiment of a Keith Haring sketch but – up close – it is a crunchy, scrape-y, ultimate achievement in mad Osmond eugenics that shows up in bedrooms, dreams, forest clearings, and eats fingers and teeth.
It. Eats. Teeth.
And the sound it makes when eating teeth: like a pig chewing up a femur. (shudder)
Three episodes in, I’m hooked for the full six episode run. Check it out.