With only two episodes remaining of Syfy's Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Daily Dead, along with several other journalists, recently had the opportunity to take part in a conference call interview with showrunner Nick Antosca, who discussed the unsettling scene at the end of episode 4, the John Carpenter-esque suburban setting of season 2, and what's to come in the rest of season 1. [Spoiler warning for those who haven't watched the first four episodes of Candle Cove.]

Nick Antosca on what viewers can expect to see in episode 5:

"The episode that you just saw is kind of—up until things go crazy—it’s kind of the calm before the storm. And the storm hits Iron Hill late in episode 4 and there’s a casualty and the consequences of that are going to reverberate through the next two episodes. And by the end of episode 5, you will have a much clearer idea of what is behind the evil that is affecting Iron Hill. So going into the final episode, we and Mike are going to know exactly what he’s facing."

Did Nick and the writers intentionally make it seem like Amy was the target in episode 4 to make Jessica's death all the more shocking?

"Yes. It was on purpose. And the end of the episode is obviously a huge death and a huge reveal and we wanted it to come as a surprise to the audience and we also want you to be, at this point, invested enough in characters like Amy and Jessica that you’re scared for them and you feel it when one of them dies. So in a way, it’s their episode. It’s the episode where Amy has to step up and she’s in more danger and it’s the episode where Jess comes closest to Mike and we see that he killed his brother because she was going to be the next one to die in 1988.

And for that sequence at the end, we’ve been building up the danger to Amy for the entire episode, and there’s all kinds of horror tropes that are played in that last sequence. Amy has close encounters with the kids we know from the previous episode have already killed someone. So we’re worried about her, and of course she just had sex, she’s the young woman in the horror film, she’s probably about to get killed. So we use that cliché and turn it around. And when she is going to investigate Mrs. Booth's house, some savvy horror viewers go, "Oh, it’s not going to be her. It’s going to be the other cop, who she’s left behind in bed and said, 'I hope you’re still here when I come back'—they’re going to kill him." So we try to have another red herring in there, too, and then release the tension and then jolt you with Jessica being the real target."

Antosca discusses the show's emphasis on psychological horror and building a creepy atmosphere instead of relying on exposition:

"It’s just personal taste and storytelling inclinations. And Craig Macneill, our director, has the same instincts. Both of us don’t like exposition and are much less interested in detailed explanation than we are in the psychological experience of just watching the show.

So even when you get to the final episode, there’s not going to be a big, last five minutes of Psycho scene. You will have the pieces available to understand what happened, but it’s much more about the emotional and psychological experience. And in terms of basic storytelling mechanics, it’s more important from a character perspective to see characters’ reactions and experiences than it is to hear things explained."

Antosca on when he decided that Jessica would be killed at this point in the show's story:

"That was my intention even before the writers' room started. I had written the pilot before the writers' room began, that’s the show [that] got greenlit straight to series. So I had a detailed outline of the overall structure of the season and an outline of what Jessica’s character was going to do and her relationship to Mike. So we knew going into it that she was going to die at the end of the second act of the season.

And honestly, once we had cast Natalie [Brown], I was like, "Oh man, do we really have to kill her?" Because she’s so good and so likable onscreen. Which makes her death even more jolting.

Antosca talks about people dressing up as Candle Cove characters for Halloween:

"Well, to be honest I was not trick-or-treating. We were shooting during Halloween night. I have seen a couple of pictures [of] people dressed as Jawbone. I haven’t seen anyone dressed as a Tooth Child, although I’ve seen fan art and somebody posted a 3D picture on, I don’t know if it’s Twitter or Reddit or something, but they had done a CGI mockup of it that was pretty cool. I think the Tooth Child was a really hard costume to make. It’s hard for me to imagine somebody doing a great job of it at home."

Does Antosca see a little of himself in any of the characters from Candle Cove?

"Yes. I always see some of myself in characters that I work on. And in writers' rooms where you have four or five people invested in the story and the characters, everybody should feel that way. We break the scripts all together. So there are lines in there that come from various writers’ lives. Everybody contributes.

There are elements to the story and Mike’s character that come from my life. The town of Iron Hill is based on the town in Maryland where I grew up, which is a rural town built around some railroad tracks. And the experience of growing up in a town like that and leaving and going to live in New York or wherever and then coming back years later is my experience. And Mike is also inspired by a good friend of mine who was a writer. When you spend a year, year and a half writing a project and investing a lot in it, of course elements of your own life go into it."

On how the second season of Channel Zero, based on Brian Russell's creepypasta story, "NoEnd House," will differ from Candle Cove in tone:

"It’s very different stylistically. Candle Cove is an almost pastoral style. It’s very restrained. It’s very composed and there is this sense of lush greenery and sinister things lurking in the woods.

NoEnd House is an almost suburban story in the sense of John Carpenter movies or It Follows, and it’s about a younger group of people and the visual style is more kinetic. Going into this, one goal was for each season to be very cinematically distinctive and to be a showcase for a different director and talented DP. I think they’re going to have a teaser trailer ready for it at the end of the finale of this season. So you’ll get a glimpse of the style."

Antosca teases what viewers can expect from the season 1 finale:

"The finale is a distinctive and bizarre episode of TV. I don’t think you’ll see anything like it on any other show. The finale is where you’ll see a bit more of Olivier de Sagazan, the performance artist. That’s another one of the things that I’m excited to showcase in each season, is an interesting artist like Olivier in the first season or in season two with the sculptor Sarah Sitkin, who’s creating some of the stuff in the NoEnd House."

Antosca discusses the tough road ahead for the widowed Gary (Shaun Benson):

"The most traumatic thing for him is going to be not just finding out that his wife is dead, but that his kids are still under the influence of Candle Cove. They’re aligned with whatever forces killed his wife. So in episodes 5 and 6, you will see a little bit of how he deals with that.

On whether or not Jessica's daughter was involved with her murder:

"No, she was still in the hospital when her mom was killed. Candle Cove doesn’t turn kids into literal robot zombies, so it might have been asking a kid to do a little too much to kill her own mom. On the other hand, she did attack her brother. So she is still very dangerous. And at a certain point, Gary is going to have to confront his kids and try and pull them back from the influence of Candle Cove."

On Mike's upcoming confrontation with his dead brother, Eddie:

"He’s [Eddie] going to be a big part of the next two episodes and particularly episode 6, where Mike is going to have another opportunity to talk to him face-to-face. And in episode 4, he’s speaking to Eddie through layers of history and emotional complication and a lot of that will get stripped away in the final episode, so he can finally have a conversation with his brother that’s long overdue."

On the timing of Eddie's spirit leaving Lily's body after Jessica is killed:

"There is some coordination. Let me put it this way, it’s not a coincidence that Lily wakes up from her “nightmare” right after Jessica gets killed. As some people have noticed, the plan was to burn the body and put Eddie to rest and then his spirit [would] leave Lily’s body, but actually, Lily really wakes up after Jessica is killed, not after the body is burnt."

Antosca sheds light on what the loss of teeth represents in Candle Cove:

"Well, teeth represent a lot of different things in dreams, but most particularly they represent life force and power. Also, specifically in this show, they represent childhood, loss of innocence. So I don’t want to get too schematic in breaking it down, but I did think a lot about that stuff and I’ll say that for me, in the creative process it’s not about thinking, "Well, what symbolizes what and then let me put that in the story." It’s more about, what feels true and disturbing and what has a kind of nightmare logic to it and then unpacking the symbolism behind that."

At one point during filming, the cast and crew had to seek shelter from a funnel cloud in Winnipeg:

"When we shot the concrete factory where they find the body in episode 2, suddenly the sky started to get dark and crazy. And we looked up and there’s a funnel cloud appearing in the sky. I’ve never seen one actually form before, but this tentacle came down from the clouds. I was like, 'Oh, shit, and called the line producer, like, there is a tornado coming—we gotta get out of here, what do we do?'

And he was like, 'Well, actually, there’s nowhere we can go right now that’s safer than inside that huge concrete factory.' Obviously it’s not going to get blown away. So we just went inside the factory and waited until this funnel cloud tentacle came down and then just kind of retracted into the sky and we just kept filming."

Antosca on how episode 5 of Candle Cove will be "revelatory":

"Revelatory, in that you will learn from someone who knows a lot more about the nature of Candle Cove and Eddie and what the goal of Candle Cove is, why it’s been waiting for Mike to come home."

Antosca touches on Mrs. Booth's potential desire for Eddie to be her son, and he also teases a "battle of the mothers" between Marla and Mrs. Booth:

"I think that’s a pretty perceptive take on it and yes, Mrs. Booth will address that more directly in episodes 5 and 6. And there is a battle of the mothers coming up."


The fifth episode of Channel Zero: Candle Cove airs tonight at 9:00pm ET on Syfy. Stay tuned to Daily Dead for more interview highlights, and in case you missed it, check out our previous coverage:

  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.