SyFy’s Channel Zero delivered a satisfying bloodbath with it’s third season, Butcher’s Block. Despite diverging wildly from Kerry Hammond’s Search and Rescue Woods, Butcher’s Block continues to show that Channel Zero’s central premise absolutely works. That premise, of course, is taking the infamously short and sparse internet horror fiction stories known as Creepypasta and adapting them into sprawling, fully-realized, incredibly surreal and bizarre worlds.
Channel Zero couldn’t begin to scratch the surface of the sheer number of Creepypastas in existence even if it ran for decades. But with season 4 on the way and hopefully others to follow, it is fun to imagine what could be done by the Channel Zero team if given the opportunity. Here are five original tales of horror that would look amazing twisted into the form of Channel Zero’s eerie alternate reality.
1) Gateway of the Mind
A widower who feels he has nothing left to live for volunteers to participate in a dubious medical experiment. With his consent, the scientists surgically terminate his senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, hoping that the resulting mental isolation will enable communication with and prove the existence of God. At first it appears that the sensory deprived subject is going insane, but his increasingly frightening behavior is coupled with equally frightening messages he claims are from the great beyond. When the Almighty finally grants him an audience, the message he returns with has more dire implications than anyone could have imagined.
Gateway of the Mind has great potential for Channel Zero to employ its trademark imaginative imagery in the creation of the extraplanar realms the test subject explores. But what would make it even better is that Gateway of the Mind is already unwittingly connected to Channel Zero through performance artist Olivier De Sagazan. In 2014, YouTube user CreepsMcPasta repurposed footage of one of De Sagazan’s performances to create research footage of the fictional, disturbed test subject. Erstwhile Channel Zero fans will also remember De Sagazan for his portrayal of the phantasmal Skin Taker back in season 1. An official adaptation of Gateway of the Mind could be a great way to give a nod to its own continuity based on this existing connection.
2) This Man
A psychiatrist’s patient sketches the face of an odd-looking man whom she claims regularly appears in her dreams and gives her advice. The sketch sits ignored on the doctor’s desk for weeks until a different patient glances at it and exclaims he’s been dreaming of the same man! As the doctor and his colleagues dig deeper into the mystery, they discover reports of this man coming in from all over the world, with dreamers claiming he has given them everything from advice and comfort, to sexual favors, to dire warnings. Who or what is this man? If he is a real entity, then is he as benevolent as he seems? Or does he possess a dark, hidden agenda?
This Man is the creation of one Andrea Natella, whose site dedicated to documenting the fictional phenomenon still manages to hoax people to this day. While not a Creepypasta by the strictest definition, This Man is nevertheless on Nick Antosca’s shortlist. In a March 9th 2018 conference call with Downright Creepy and other news outlets, the Channel Zero showrunner and creator mentioned This Man by name as a property he would love to adapt as an arc if given the opportunity. The possibilities are certainly intriguing. The first three seasons have given us tales of horror set in isolated communities, and it seems logical they could easily handle a supernatural phenomenon that has gone global, yet which still occurs in something as intimate as a dream.
When a young dumpster diver discovers a discarded desktop computer in perfect working order he thinks it’s got to be too good to be true. It turns out he’s right. The only file remaining on the wiped PC is one unnerving video. Before he knows it, the soundless footage of a distraught, disturbed woman leads him to an abandoned house in the woods where something horrific might be taking place.
Barbie.avi has all the elements that make Creepypasta great: a likable protagonist who is initially excited by something that turns terrifying; weird, abandoned locations; and modern electronic media serving to promulgate evil upon the unsuspecting. Channel Zero has proven masterful at extrapolating large, lived-in worlds out of short, vague stories. This means that Barbie.avi with its abrupt ending and unfinished feeling could be built upon in dozens of different ways. Is the mysterious woman a mental patient? The victim of a serial killer? The subject of some illegal, unethical medical experiment, or something ever worse and more bizarre? There are almost too many choices to be made with a story as tantalizing as this, with no wrong answer among them.
4) The Bitterroot Footage
When Chad Logan needed furniture he did what any cash-strapped university student would do: he went shopping on Craigslist. But when he discovers a mysterious wooden box hidden among his new furnishings, he begins to regret his purchase. Who is the shuffling, hunched creature in the film and photographs contained within the box? More importantly, what was in that incubator? Why is there a human-shaped thing wrapped in a bag and chained to the floor? And does the bag tossed in a ditch at the end of the film really contain what it looks like?
The Bitterroot Footage is one of the more noteworthy internet hoaxes of recent years simply because it gave no hint of explanation or continuation for so long. Was it viral marketing for a film or alternate reality game that never materialized? Was it a genuine standalone Creepypasta, or were we ever supposed to expect more? The answer came in December 2017 when novelist Edouard Jourdan announced in a Reddit post that he had created The Bitterroot Footage more or less because he could. Like Barbie.avi, The Bitterroot Footage is a simple story of a young man who finds something interesting that rapidly escalates into something scary, then simply ends, letting the lack of resolution speak for itself, leaving the reader/viewer hungry for more. If Jourdan made the professional-looking film using nothing more than an abandoned building, discarded medical equipment, and special effects by his then-girlfriend, a dollmaker, then The Bitterroot Footage could expand into something really mindblowing if given the full-scale Channel Zero treatment.
5) Has Anyone Heard of the Left/Right Game
A man living in Bristol, UK doesn’t think much of it when his former roommate, Alice, drops out of contact shortly after leaving to pursue her dream job as a journalist in America. But then he receives a batch of files, seemingly e-mailed by Alice, that point toward a dreadful fate. It turns out that Alice fell in with an older man named Robert, intent upon making a news story out of his peculiar obsession: a seemingly harmless pastime known as the Left/Right game, where people set out in their cars for literally wherever the road takes them. But for Alice, it takes her into a supernatural otherworld that she and the other members of Robert’s expedition cannot handle. Or survive.
Created in a series of posts to Reddit’s legendary No Sleep forum, Has Anyone Heard of the Left/Right Game is another story mentioned by name by Channel Zero’s Nick Antosca. It certainly has all the makings of a great horror film: a dwindling cast of interesting characters; a fun vacation outing that turns into a fight for survival; and a strong Final Girl-type character in the form of Alice Sharma. But its format of cryptic e-mailed documents give it that distinctive Creepypasta flavor, and the villains – which are no mere slasher movie maniacs – are perfectly suited for the surreal and tragic horror that is Channel Zero’s bread and butter.
Has Anyone Heard of the Left/Right Game is a story filled with literal twists and turns. But the greatest twist in the story yet would be learning that it’s coming to Channel Zero. We can hope. But in the meantime it’s best to not talk to hitchhikers and keep your eyes on the road.