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Review: 'Channel Zero: No-End House' pumps up the prestige horror

In its second season, Channel Zero cements itself as one of the scariest shows on television.

The Syfy anthology series from creator Nick Antosca brings to life Creepypastas, internet horror stories that read as creepy urban legends. The first season - Candle Cove - delved into mysterious disappearances and gruesome murders connected to a disturbing children's show from the 1980s.

The second - No-End House - puts a fresh, deeply surreal twist on the haunted house trope.

This season dives head first into grief and existential trauma with Margot (Amy Forsyth) a college-aged woman who's still mourning the death of her father (John Carroll Lynch) under unsettling circumstances. Margot's best friend Jules (Aisha Dee) returns home for the summer and reunites with Margot before a mood-changing night out on the town.

Unfortunately, the two - and about a dozen others - are lead to the No-End House, an urban legend haunt whose notoriety makes it a perfect dare for the early-20s crowd. Once inside, visitors are directed through mysterious rooms - each more disturbingly personal than the last.

Only Margot, Jules and two friends seemingly make it through the five rooms within the matte black fortress. The other bow out due to sheer terror.

This would be short season if the group explored everything the No-End House has to offer in the first episode. The visual metaphors showcased within its walls are stunning, but it's the psychological tension and horror that comes after the group seemingly completes the No-End House that bumps this season into the prestige horror realm of television.

Its long pans and shuddersome sound design bring to mind It Follows and even The Shining, both psychological horror flicks that dripped with disturbing metaphors. No-End House takes a similar approach with less graphic scenes in favor of mounting dread.

The metaphorical monster in this scary series isn't a flesh and blood creature, but more like manifestations of each character's personal fears, past traumas and treasured memories. To escape the No-End House, Margot and her friends must overcome their weaknesses and eschew gut reactions to the horrors they witness.

With just six episodes, No-End House doesn't overstay its welcome, yet still has breathing room for long shots filled with nothing but anxiety-inducing music. You won't even notice the lack of dependence on dialogue. Antosca and director Steven Piet rely heavily on eye-catching visuals, producing quality designs both inside and outside the titular house.

And viewers would be smart to pay close attention to the details in these artistic frames. You never know what pieces will be part of the next unsettling or heartbreaking reveal in this smart, twist-driven mystery.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.


Watch

Channel Zero: No-End House, 10 p.m. Wednesday, Syfy


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