In its second week, Syfy’s “Channel Zero” has not just gotten under our skin, it’s made its home there. But then again, what should we expect with a television series based on the popular creepypasta? What we know so far, is that “Candle Cove” is real, depending on who you talk to in Iron Hill, and the town’s children are about to face a familiar set of horrors. As the wise giant in “Twin Peaks” once said, “It’s happening again.”
Tuesday’s (Oct. 18) episode, titled “I’ll Hold Your Hand,” gives a bit more insight into the childhood relationship between twin brothers Mike and Eddie Painter (both played by Luca Villacis), their fatherless upbringing and the bullying that may have led to a violent end for Eddie, and others.
Is Mike (Paul Schneider) guilty of murdering his brother? That’s one of many questions we had after viewing the episode. Thankfully, Nick Antosca (“Hannibal”) — the creator and executive producer of “Channel Zero” — was around to give us some answers.
The relationship between Mike and Eddie feels reminiscent of Bill and Georgie from Stephen King’s ‘IT.’ Was this a purposeful homage?
Nick Antosca: We didn’t specifically draw from “IT,” which I haven’t read since high school and isn’t one of the King novels I love most. For the record, my favorite Stephen King novels are “The Shining” — which for me is up there with “Revolutionary Road” and “Light Years” as one of the all time great novels about marriage — “Misery,” “The Stand,” “Pet Sematary” and “Under the Dome.”
Then I did realize at a certain point that the story had echoes of “IT.” But in the horror genre, you almost can’t get away from King. One of my best friends used to say, “If you come up with a great idea for a book, write it immediately… Before Stephen King does.”
Speaking of… there are some sinister things going down with the kids of Iron Hill. Are ‘the Iron Hill murders’ inspired by something that really happened?
No, “the Iron Hill murders” are completely fictitious. I named the town Iron Hill as a slight nod to the original story, where it’s mentioned that the show used to air around Ironton — which is a much more populated area than our story called for. The fictional Iron Hill in the show is actually modeled after the small town where I grew up.
What is it about middle America that makes for the perfect setting for a story such as this?
Horror is better in familiar settings. If it looks like a benign place, then there’s a greater sense of queasy discontinuity when dreadful things appear.
There’s also a sense of separated isolation that comes with the story’s location that makes the audience empathize and fear for Mike, both as a kid and as an adult.
The bleakness and feeling of isolation is very deliberate. If you’re familiar with Craig William Macneill’s film “The Boy,” you know he’s the perfect director for that tone. And also the perfect director to depict moments from a troubled childhood.
While the puppets of ‘Candle Cove’ are a driving factor of the show’s fear, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask about the Tooth-Child. What is going on there!?
The Tooth Child is an original creation. I saw it in a nightmare while I was outlining the first season of “Channel Zero.” For me it’s connected to ideas about childhood and growing up.
Just another way ‘Candle Cove’ reminds us of ‘IT’! Speaking of, what do you find scarier: puppets or clowns?
Even though we made a show about puppets, I have to say that I find clowns scarier in real life, simply because there’s a person concealing his or her identity behind all that makeup.
And let’s not forget all those real-life clown attacks…
Real people are scarier than anything else.
So… is Mike guilty of murder?
He is guilty of some things and not guilty of others!
“Channel Zero: Candle Cove” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.