John Nicol’s “Channel Zero” is an unusual but ambitious film that will inspire a lot of avid movie lovers to check out more than once. It’s packed with some heavy ideas and unique themes about reality, and the state of existence, all in the face of what is a pretty vicious prologue and epilogue. Director Nicol has a very striking directorial style that makes “Channel Zero” feel like an absolute nightmare. And though the movie is considerably low budget, director Nicol manages to evoke a world that feels very empty and barren. It’s not very easy to do, especially with independent filmmakers, but director Nicol is able to accomplish that task.
Nicol’s slick editing and camere work allows for our character Darian to roam around what feels like a wasteland. When characters eventually begin introducing themselves, they serve as antagonists and symbols that help him question his own psychoses and state of being. Nicol explores a lot of interesting ideas about reality, states of mind, the subjectivity of what’s real, and how the idea of reality can affect us and influence us. Sadly, “Channel Zero” is a bit long in the tooth, even for a film with such heavy themes, as it tends to kind of lose its momentum by the final half hour.
With ten minutes trimmed away, “Channel Zero” could have been a much better and sleeker think piece. “Channel Zero” is strictly for the David Lynch and Cronenberg enthusiasts, as Nicol clearly draws influences from both directors, and creates a tight air of menace and ambiguity that’s very potent until the finale. John Nicol’s direction is top notch, and while “Channel Zero” is not for a broad audience, fans of experimental and surreal mysteries and thrillers may find a lot of value in the questions raised. I quite enjoyed “Channel Zero,” and Mr. Nicol is a very talented director who I hope we see more from in the future.