Channel Zero: The Inside Story On Horror’s Answer To Black Mirror

Series creator Nick Antacosta talks internet urban legends and making the scariest show of 2017.

The TV series Channel Zero.
Channel Zero

If you’re a fan of shows like Twin Peaks, Black Mirror and American Horror Story, then you really need to be watching the SyFy’s anthology horror series Channel Zero.

Each series takes on a different story based on the kind of internet lore that gave birth to the myth of the infamous Slender Man.

The first, entitled Candle Cove, centres on a man who returns home after a long absence and quickly uncovers a link between a decades-old crime and a strange children’s TV programme he grew up watching.

The second, No-End House, is about an extreme haunted house with a last room that leaves visitors trapped in an alternate reality.

Strange, scary and highly addictive, the series is fast becoming the best kept secret of 2017 and, to mark its release on DVD, loaded got a chance to speak to the show’s creator Nick Antacosta, about the making of the series and his previous work on Hannibal and a script for the Friday the 13th reboot.

loaded: What was it that attracted you to the Channel Zero project in the first place and can you explain the concept of creepypastas to those who might not know about them?

Nick: “Creepypastas” are today’s urban legends – scary stories told as truth that spread around the internet. I knew I wanted to make a series based on different creepypastas and to approach this idea as an anthology, so each season could be based on a different story. The seasons ideally capture the spirit of the creepypasta and explore the concepts more in depth. I like to think of each Channel Zero season as the nightmare you have after reading a particular creepypasta.

loaded: What it is that makes Candle Cove, in particular, such a scary creepypasta premise?

Nick: Candle Cove was actually the first creepypasta I read. What I look for in any creepypasta we adapt is a strong horror concept that has lots of room to expand upon and mythology to probe. I found the idea of a “haunted TV show” an incredibly strong horror concept. It’s chilling in a number of ways – we all have these childhood memories that we vaguely recall, and if they’re examined further we can realize they’re more unsettling and disturbing.

loaded: What’s the scariest creepypasta you have read about that hasn’t made it to the show yet?

Nick: I’ve read quite a few that have scary promise. The Russian Sleep Experiment, Psychosis, Mr. Widemouth, Borrasca, and 630-296-7536 <tel:(630)%20296-7536> are a few that come to mind.

loaded: What scares you most? What kind of creepypasta would really freak you out?

Nick: I’m not quite sure that I should reveal what scares me most to the world. But as far as creepypasta goes, I find ones that center around an inability to trust the landscape around you, your perception of it, particularly disturbing. The idea that you can’t trust your world, the people you know, or your own mind is a cool, scary idea to me.

loaded: There’s something quite uniquely unsettling about Channel Zero– how did you go about creating and maintaining that effect? What’s your secret?

Nick: With Channel Zero, we want to steer away from jump scares and expected horror tropes. Instead we like to take those horror tropes and find surprising ways to explore them. We also like to play with dread – philosophical, psychological dread.

loaded: Who are your biggest influences in terms of writers and filmmakers?

Nick: For Candle Cove, I was largely influenced by Stephen King. For No-End House, the second instalment, I drew a lot from John Carpenter. The third instalment, Butcher’s Block, you’ll see a large Dario Argento influence.

I also am very influenced and inspired by Thomas Ligotti, James Salter, Shirley Jackson, Nabokov, David Lynch, and many other authors, writers, and directors.

loaded: What do you want viewers to take away from the Channel Zero experience?

Nick: I’d like viewers to feel something that lingers. I’d also like them to consider some of the themes we’ve written about – grief, mental illness, and the key relationships in their life – between siblings, between parents, between friends.

loaded: You previously worked on Hannibal – is that series completely dead in the water or will fans be getting a new series/TV movie to tie any loose ends up?

Nick: I think Hannibal has an incredible fanbase, and that the show will continue to spawn ideas and content. I hope to see it return someday.

loaded: At one point you were named as screenwriter on the upcoming Friday the 13th film. What would your Friday the 13th movie have been like?

Nick: Audiences would have seen a classic Jason movie. For the first draft of the script that I was able to write, I drew a lot from the Paramount Friday the 13th movies, Dazed and Confused, Fast Times at Ridgemont high, and John Hughes movies.

Jason Voorhees

loaded: Where will Channel Zero head next? What can fans expect?

Nick: Fans can expect a thread of dread and psychological horror each season, but in each season we will explore different styles of horror. They can expect to be disturbed and scared and to see some of the horror concepts they love explore in a unique way.

Channel Zero: Candle Cove is out on Blu-ray and DVD now.

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