Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the SyFy horror series Channel Zero: The Dream Door (2018). To best describe the story, I will use my own plot summary:
A married couple discovers a strange door in their basement that has appeared out of nowhere and soon an imaginary friend from the wife’s past begins a killing spree.
Just so everyone knows, I have seen all but season three of Channel Zero and have so far dug the stories they are telling. Approaching this new chapter, I had to wonder if they were going to match the creepy, slow burn of Candle Cove or the more nightmarish, emotional tone of The No End House? Well, this one took some of what made those two seasons so memorable and used them to make something completely new.
One of the first major differences was how violent this season ended up being. It honestly came as a surprise to me as while the show has had some dark or action packed moments, the level of gore on display this season was higher than the previous two seasons I viewed. Even though this was definitely a bloodier chapter than I was used to, the violence never got so out of hand as to take away the character arcs.
In fact, from a story standpoint this entry managed to surprise me the most. The main reason I say this is because the first episode or two seemed to be going one direction, only for things to take a turn towards an even more fascinating idea than what I thought they were going to explore. I will admit, that the finale was not nearly as creepy as how things began, but it all tied together in a way that kept the character’s journey so front and center that it was more logical than what I initially envisioned.
Even with that praise lauded upon the plotting, there was one particular moment where they went a little too typical for my taste. It came down to pulling the old trick of one character wanting to reveal a dark secret to another, but not leaving said information in a voicemail or text. This choice had such an impact on the people and events that followed that it read as a move to force tension upon a situation that was already rife with emotion.
For the most part, the acting this season was up to the task of executing the more emotional moments. There were a few beats near the middle where I felt they telegraphed more than necessary, but I have not been able to pin down how much of that was the actor’s fault versus the dialogue. By the time we hit the end of this chapter, we get some solid turns from the main players who give us plenty of reasons to like their character.
From a production values standpoint this entry is just as strong as those that have come before. We still have the incredible character designs (this time featuring a terrifying contortionist named Pretzel Jack) and stylized look that has made this series such a standout in the past. It has been a smart move to have the same director behind each episode as it has created one continuous vision that makes this season feel like an extended horror movie.
All in all, I am still really enjoying what Channel Zero is selling and plan on returning when they launch season five. From the horrific look of Pretzel Jack (who seems to silently say, “Ta daa!” after each bloody act) to the smaller character moments, it is nice to see them keep their seasons concise and focused on the emotional stakes. Fans of things like American Horror Story (2011) who would like to see something a bit more consistent should definitely check out this show.
Channel Zero: The Dream Door premieres on Friday, October 26 at 11/10c on Syfy.