Channel Zero: The Dream Door premieres October 26th on Syfy.
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
By Chris Flanagan
Over the years, Channel Zero has managed to carve out a niche for itself within the horror genre on TV. Deriving its content from user-generated short stories online, the show is able to follow an anthology storytelling approach that during its four seasons has featured completely different stories and characters. This season, entitled The Dream Door, focuses on married couple Tom and Jill who recently move into Tom’s childhood home only to discover the appearance of a mysterious door in their basement. As time unfolds, the revelation begins to test the couple’s marriage forcing them to acknowledge certain demons from their past while figuring out how to overcome them together. Where the plot takes a twisted turn is with Jill’s past as she unknowingly manifests a childhood imaginary friend, Pretzel Jack, a contortionist clown (YES, you read that correctly), who is tasked with protecting her by eliminating anything that is a threat or upsets Jill.
The Dream Door’s well-crafted pacing as it carefully reveals the extent of Jill’s frightening thoughts-turned-real is what elevated the story into something more for me. It plays with the notion of allowing your mind to wander off on tangents of what it could be by not getting to see Pretzel Jack fully until well in the second episode, but once he makes an appearance all Hell breaks loose and the show begins to take a sinister turn.
I think this is the perfect time to openly admit that I hate clowns. I’m terrified of them. And so as Pretzel Jack, the contortionist clown from Jill’s childhood emerges as the show’s main villain and begins to brutally murder people I became more and more paralyzed with fear and yet, I couldn’t stop watching. The narrative, continually building upon itself revealing little by little of information into Jill’s life and her relationship with Tom was so interesting that I had to know more even despite the fact that at any second I could watch a clown savagely kill someone. This experience is difficult to place into words, however, it serves as a testament to the strong and compelling storytelling of this season of Channel Zero. Even more exciting, is that SyFy plans on releasing the six episodes over six consecutive days starting on October 26th leading up to Halloween so you will not have to wait long for its resolution.
I have been a fan of Channel Zero since its first season and its pedigree of source material has allowed it to tell truly creepy stories that have been wonderful see come to life onscreen. This legacy continues with The Dream Door as it settles on a common concept of childhood memories and the necessity for a connection with something or someone that allows us to feel safe all while placing a sadistic twist upon it in order to show that concept albeit from a slightly skewed perspective begging to answer the question, “What if…?” Channel Zero still continues its long and underappreciated position of being one of the most unique avenues for horror on television with its latest season and with a short episode count, it’s incredibly easy and entertaining to ingest over several nights.
I give Channel Zero: The Dream Door an A.