The best Creepypastas, spooky modern folklore people write for the web, will give you bad dreams. But, many, many more of them are just bad, full stop. The story Syfy’s Creepypasta-inspired horror anthology Channel Zero looked to for its sophomore season isn’t the best the genre has to offer, but, luckily, No-End House uses only the bare bones of the original story, and the result is maybe the best horror on TV right now.
No-End House is based on the 5,273-word story NoEnd House (no hyphen), which is credited to Brian Russell. It’s framed as a lengthy first-person account of a trip through the titular house, a haunted attraction that boasts a series of scarier and scarier rooms. The twist — which isn’t really a spoiler, given that the TV show uses it to cap off the first episode — is that the person telling the story might not have ever left the house. It’s a good idea, but the thousands of words that come before it tell rather than show. Many Creepypasta stories confuse gratuitous disturbing visuals for “horror,” and NoEnd House is a prime offender; it takes the truly terrifying idea of being trapped and buries it under mediocre prose describing demons and doppelgangers.
Since it’s a scary story that some guy wrote for fun online, all of its flaws are totally excusable. If Channel Zero’s take on the story was a straight adaptation, though, there would’ve been some problems. That’s not what happens at all.
The six-episode season, which will tell a complete story, stars Amy Forsyth (Hulu’s The Path) as Margot, a teenager who is getting over the recent death of her father (John Carroll Lynch) and grappling with feelings of abandonment because her best friend Jules (Aisha Dee) left her for college. When Jules returns home, the two decide to visit the “No-End House,” a mysterious art installation/haunted house that seems to travel, ominously and without explanation, around the globe.
The pair brave a series of increasingly terrifying rooms before making what they think is their exit. The visuals are indeed creepy (and, for what it’s worth, totally different from the overnight horrors described in the original Creepypasta), but they’re not the scariest part of No-End House. Margot is haunted by feelings of loss grieving for her dad. Those feelings, unlike a demonic haunted house, are very, very real. The scene in the premiere where Margot is trapped in a room and confronted by home video footage of happy times with her dad is upsetting enough before the pasty ghoul comes to life.
The house is scary because it’s preying on those relatable fears, not because it’s throwing spooky spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks.
Chanel Zero took a very short, very creepy story and greatly expanded upon it for Season 1, Candle Cove. By stripping away everything but the broadest frame and loose premise from a much longer and less-successful Creepypasta for Season 2, they’ve kind of done the same thing. The internet has some great ideas, but doesn’t always execute them well. By taking the web-generated idea of an inescapable haunted house and adding in the IRL feeling of inescapable grief, Channel Zero elevated mediocre source material and created something really, truly scary.
Channel Zero: No-End House airs on Wednesdays on SyFy.d House airs on Wednesdays on SyFy.*