Previously on Channel Zero: No-End House, “The Hollow Girl”
After sitting out season 3, I’m back to review Channel Zero’s 4th season, “The Dream Door,” based solely on the fact that the premiere episode featured one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever seen.
Newlyweds Jillian Hope (Maria Sten) and Tom Hodgson (Brandon Scott) move back to the hometown where they met as children when Tom’s mother gives them his childhood home as a wedding present. Despite having a vigorous and passionate sex life, the Hodgsons have trust issues; namely, Jillian becomes suspicious of Tom after finding him in a heated conversation with another woman in a store. He claims the woman, Sarah Winters (Diana Bentley), is a disgruntled ex-client, but when Jillian finds Tom has been calling the woman repeatedly she calls Sarah, who says Tom has been harassing her. Each time he’s confronted, Tom not only denies an affair, but gaslights Jillian into thinking it’s all in her head and that she’s letting her father’s infidelity affect their relationship.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the couple finds a door in their basement; a door that didn’t exist before. You needn’t have seen The Haunting of Hill House to know that mysterious locked doors never lead to anything good. Jillian, Tom, and Tom’s best friend Jason (Nicholas Tucci) finally succeed in opening the door and find a narrow stairway that leads to yet another locked door with a handprint on it. Jillian returns to the door alone and presses her hand against the print. Inside, Jillian finds a figment of her imagination come to life.
Pretzel Jack was a character Jillian created as a child. We first see him in a flip book Jillian made as a little girl. Tufts of white blonde hair stick up on his head and his long limbs bend impossibly as the pages flip and a crayon drawing of Jillian beams. It’s frightening on paper, and downright terrifying in person when Pretzel Jack runs past Jillian to escape the basement. The police chalk it up to a homeless intruder with no intent to harm Jillian. They’re half right.
Pretzel Jack reappears to defend Jillian when she gets into an argument with Jason at his house. He repeatedly stabs Jason in the face and then flips and bends his way out of the room when Jillian yells for him to stop. Then he does a few tricks like a puppy seeking approval, and prances out of the room. It was 80% terrifying and 20% hilarious.
Like the dog that popped up in their basement (before the door appeared), Pretzel Jack seems to be a manifestation from Jillian’s mind when she’s distressed. The stray just happens to look like a stuffed animal she had as a kid. The fact that she doesn’t know what she’s doing makes it even scarier. The fact that Tom is clearly keeping a secret means we should probably be afraid for her husband more than anyone else.