Analysis: Channel Zero: No End House

Channel Zero is what I wish American Horror Story was, and it’s a shame more people aren’t watching and talking about it. With a lean six episodes per season, it takes the bare bones of infamous creepypasta stories and creates layered storylines exploring a variety of themes. The first season focused on one of my personal favorite creepypasta: Candle Cove. Although I was disappointed with that season (I felt it could have been far creepier and more disturbing), the use of atmosphere and creeping dread combined with shocking moments of violence helped the story stay scary and fresh. It also had a lot of interesting depictions of parenthood. Although parenthood plays a strong role in No End House with Margot’s storyline, I want to focus specifically on Jules instead.

The No End House is a popup attraction hipsters seek out. It consists of six rooms – each more horrific and personalized than the last. The rumor is no one who gets to room six makes it out.

*****SPOILERS AHEAD*****

We learn that the sixth room of the house leads to an alternate dimension of sorts – a world the house has created to lure victims in it can feast on. It tricks you into complacency by giving you what you most desire – often but not always in the form of beings who imitate people you desire in your life. We see how the four characters who go in experience this differently. For Margot the thing she most desires is the love and support of her dead father. The storyline skillfully balances her awareness this being is not her dad with the detached sense of reality the house creates. She knows he isn’t real and can’t fully turn away because he is so close an imitation. Her friend J.D. is ensnared with the ideal “alpha” version of himself who eventually murders him in an attempt to steal his identity in the real world. Seth, who longs for a sense of belonging not afforded to him in the foster system, seems to find the acceptance he desires. And finally there’s Margot’s best friend Jules whose story is purposefully left ambiguous.

What we do know: Jules relates a story early in the first episode about her fixation with the myth of the succubus. When she is in the house she encounters a large white glowing orb. When she touches the orb she goes into a nearly erotic rapture which seemingly hypnotizes her – allowing the orb to begin absorbing her memories.

The orb seems to act like a siren call for Jules. In the last episode when she has returned only to save Margot, she manages to resist the orb until it mimics Margot’s voice. She returns to it and almost seems to be consumed before cutting her way out. At that point she escapes the orb covered in blood – an obvious metaphor for a rebirth.

The creator based the orb off a reoccurring dream described by some of the crew, and insisted they wanted it to be mysterious. The trouble is it is so mysterious it is frustrating – not giving us enough clues to make a healthy and satisfying conclusion to what the orb represents and what Jules deal is. Because of this, and Jules known story line revolving around being there for Margot and trying to rescue her in the final episode, Jules functions as a one-dimensional character. Her character is given the pretense depth without any true substance. It’s also disheartening to see yet another example of a black character reduced to being the secondary character to a white character. When I initially saw trailers for No End House I assumed Jules was the lead character from how she was depicted, so it immediately felt disappointing to realize that wasn’t the case.

I wish we would have gotten a chance to know Jules better considering how intriguing she seems to be, but despite these misgivings the season is another solid entry to the series. It will be interesting to see how the series grows and develops. It already looks like they are only keeping slim portions of the original creepypastas – almost to the point claiming to base them off the stories seems like a crutch this series doesn’t need.

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