Syfy’s Channel Zero Episode 1 and 2 review

Syfy’s critically-acclaimed anthology series “Channel Zero” snares its prey in a web of psychological disparity, unnerving bouts of silence, and confounding cinematic angles in its already refreshingly nightmarish follow-up second season “No-End House.”

Writer and producer Nick Antosca, known for “Hannibal” (2013), “The Forest” (2016), and “Channel Zero: Candle Cove” (2016), returns as executive producer, showrunner, and writer for this second installment inspired by Brian Russell’s Creepypasta tale. Together, with director Steven Piet (“Uncle John”) and cinematic veterans Harley Peyton (“Twin Peaks”), and Don Mancini (“Hannibal,” creator of “Child’s Play”), they constructed a show of increasingly unsettling experiences, questioning reality and turning the very mind against itself.

“No-End House” tells the story of a young woman named Margot Sleator (played by Amy Forsyth) who visits the No-End House, a bizarre, traveling house of horrors comprised of several rooms, each more increasingly disturbing than the last. And whoever is brave enough to make it to the last room… never comes back.

While the premise sounds utterly cliché, “No-End House” teaches its audience a lesson in underestimating storytelling. This season takes the most overused horror trope of all time—a haunted house— and gives it a much needed transformation. Instead of the classic creeps, monsters, and demons to overcome in the same-old trigger-pulling, exorcism way of doing things, our characters must survive their way through their own cannibalistic memories with nothing but their own nightmares to guide them. In only two episodes, this season fantastically haunts its viewers into utter captivation, urging them to watch each episode, and ultimately the entire season, until its very end.

While episode one (“This Isn’t Real”) gave a disappointingly underwhelming introduction into the world of the second anthology chapter, the following episode “Nice Neighborhood” more than proved itself and “No-End House” as one of the few exceptionally pleasing to behold piece of horror television this year — “AHS: Cult” leading the forefront.

Unlike most so-called horror programs, this anthology amuses itself with peeling back layers of psychological traumas through cinematic angles and sound (or lack thereof). The muted and still depiction of the No-End House cul-de-sac at the beginning scene in “This Isn’t Real” immediately raised arm hair—subconsciously warning the audience that what they were getting into is not so easily predictable… or easily escapable. This show’s chilling oddness and talent in using silence to haunt its viewers upholds “No-End House” as something promising.

Along with its prowess to unhinge, “No-End House” centers on intriguing and realistically flawed characters that push the show in sometimes frustrating, yet frighteningly raw ways. The character dynamics between the Margot, who is still grieving over the sudden death of her father, and her very-flawed best friend Jules (Aisha Dee) is interesting to behold because the script fleshed out these characters so authentically well that their mannerisms, contrasting personalities, psychological scars, and even the wedge driven between their friendship is evident in how they interact—well embodied by both Forsyth and Dee. The other characters, namely Margot’s father John Sleator (John Carroll Lynch), bring an air of tension and mystery to the storyline that compliments Margot and Jules’ relationship in unpredictably satisfying ways.

Despite the psychological limp of a first episode, “Channel Zero: No-End House” episodes one and two breaks the mind’s barrier as its own paranoia-inducing piece of horror that stands on its own pedestal in the dread department. It’s not American Horror Story, but “No-End House” holds its own as a mind-altering, spine-tingling television show gift-wrapped with an air of mystery to its awaiting audience. Those who enjoy American Horror Story’s unique imagery and finesse in screwing with minds will enjoy “Channel Zero: No-End House” for its breath-of-fresh air taste in storytelling and powerful, yet subtle imagery that will make a permanent home in the minds of those wanting to watch.

You can catch “Channel Zero: No-End House” on Syfy Wednesdays at 10/9 central.

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