Syfy premiered its new horror anthology show, Channel Zero, on Tuesday night, and the leadoff episode of the first miniseries, Candle Cove was impressively chilling — and it covered pretty much the entirety of the source material it was based on in just one episode.
That makes sense, because Candle Cove, like all of the arcs to come on Channel Zero, are based on the internet’s modern horror folklore, Creepypasta stories. These user-generated scary stories are written to be disseminated and believed. They’re intentional urban legends that often take on a life of their own. (Slenderman is the most infamous Creepypasta creation.)
Most Creepypastas are short and open-ended. The original Candle Cove story, which was written by (and, on the show, credited to) Kris Straub, is just shy of 1,200 words. Most of the story is build-up as users on a television forum exchange half-remembered, increasingly nightmarish posts about the titular TV show. It ends with creepy bombshell of a twist worthy of a Twilight Zone: One of the posters’ mother says they never watched any show. It was just static and their imaginations.
It’s incredibly discomforting, and the story feels incomplete by design. That, though, ain’t enough for a six-episode series. Syfy’s Candle Cove expands the world right off the bat by introducing us to our main character, Mike, who, like the characters in Stephen King’s It is drawn back to his hometown by nightmares and a haunted past reaching out to get him. Upon his return, Mike meets up with some old acquaintances (calling them “friends” seems like a stretch, based on how chilly they all seem), and while having dinner they start to discuss their memories of Candle Cove. Some of their recollections are lines that have been directly lifted from the original Creepypasta source material.
After some uneasy apparitions — which look like they’ll get scarier each week — and a suspicious missing child, Mike has a conversation with his mother, who reveals that he never actually watched any TV show. It was just static.
So that, pretty much, is all the source material has to offer. Luckily, Creepypasta’s are meant to be expanded on like the modern campfire folklore they are. The remaining episodes of Candle Cove are going to expand on what the Creepypasta started. We’ll see how much the show chooses to explain about just what the hell is going on with Candle Cove.
Or maybe it’ll end just as mysteriously, and be terrifying journey along the way.