Trauma and the Ghosts it Can Conjure: Channel Zero The Dream Door

The rise on social media right now with regard to outing abusers and past traumatic memories reminded me of this interesting anthology series that many are unaware of. Channel Zero is a wonderful work of fiction. The stories are itself based on creepypastas, which, for those who don’t know, can be quite the scare-fest.

So, Channel Zero, as said earlier, is an anthology series that focuses on a new creepypasta story every season. Unlike other anthologies like American Horror Story, which kind of pushed its own self towards destruction with too much flashy storytelling, this one is different. Every season has something very… creepy. I can’t really put my finger on it, but its claustrophobia-inducing sets and equally mind-bending ghosts really do set it apart.

However, even though the first three seasons were purely supernatural in nature, the fourth season, titled The Dream Door, is more dependant on human beings and their trauma and its manifestations.


Jill Dream Door Channel Zero
Jill in Channel Zero: The Dream Door

Channel Zero: The Dream Door starts off with Jill and Tom who just got married and moved into their new home. They are very much in love, as just-married couples usually are. However, there’s something wrong, just under the surface. You know, something you can quite make out, but just can’t exactly put your finger on. That feeling has a way of shaping your everyday life – not absolutely, but just a little nudge here and a push there. That’s trauma. And we later learn that when Jill’s father left when she was young, her world fell apart.

That is actually something which is very common for people who go through trauma but suppress it. You tend to “forget” but it’s still there at the back of your mind. So much so that it indirectly has an effect on your present/future decisions.


Pretzel Jack and Jill
Pretzel Jack and Jill

Now, this is where it gets ugly on Channel Zero. Jill can project her sadness in a very unique way. She can create anything in the world by channelling her sadness. It, quite literally, creates a door for her so that her coping mechanisms kick in. And that, for her, is Pretzel Jack. He was a figment of Jill’s childhood imagination that became a source of comfort for her during her difficult times. However, as times progressed, Pretzel Jack was forgotten by a growing Jill. It took Tom’s alleged infidelity to bring that past trauma, and Pretzel Jack, to the surface once more.

This is a very important thing that people who have gone through trauma in their childhood can attest to. Things that happen in childhood tend to get buried during the teenage/early adulthood years. However, since you don’t really work on those problems, they tend to come back to your present with the slightest trigger. The Dream Door did a brilliant job at showing that – how childhood trauma, or trauma in general, should be dealt with as and when it happens. Sweeping it under the rug only makes the problem bigger, and when it becomes too much for the rug to control, it tends to burst out – often with terrible consequences.


Channel Zero
Pretzel Jack

The consequences, in Jill’s case, came as Pretzel Jack attacking anyone who caused Jill distress. Because he is a part of Jill herself. Her desire, and subsequent inability, to remove that source of sadness from her life triggers Pretzel Jack to do what she cannot. This causes unnecessary harm to the people around her – many of whom die. Tom is harmed more than once as well.

This works in the real world as well. Dealing with sadness and anger are very important parts of growing as a person. As with the rug analogy, if they are not dealt with quickly and tactfully, they tend to overflow and harm people which we might tend to regret later. However, when the regret comes, it’s too late and the deed is done. There’s no way to undo it.


Channel Zero
Jill in Channel Zero: The Dream Door

Jill finally gets a chance to deal with her trauma when she faces her problems face-to-face. In Channel Zero, that happens when she faces Ian, her long-lost half brother who had been manipulating her from the beginning. Only when she removes the cause of her problems does she get to have a life with Tom and start a family.

Similarly, in real life, facing your problems and removing them from their roots is what helps people to move forward with life. You cannot expect to carry the weight of your past trauma and live your life normally. It’s a process that has to be undertaken in order to move forward with life and look forward to better prospects and opportunities.

The genius of the The Dream Door

Jill and Tom
Jill and Tom

… lies in the fact that it is more than a supernatural series. There are real problems here that most people would be able to identify with. Tom and Jill’s dynamics are very real. Tom gaslighting Jill in order to get away from her too-real questions regarding his infidelity hit right at home.

This is what happens when there are things that are left ignored in the past. And it’s not just Jill – Tom is just as broken and they both realise that towards the end of Dream Door.

 Oh btw

Pretzel Jack
Pretzel Jack

Channel Zero is a brilliant series that is worth a watch. Although it is not new (The Dream Door came out in 2018), yet it does portray a lot of things accurately. Especially the scares – there are very few jump-scares and the atmospheric tension and creepiness will take your breath away – quite literally. On top of that, the practical effects are brilliant. Troy James as Pretzel Jack is the best part of The Dream Door. His death was absolutely heartbreaking.

So, remember to keep yourself and your mental health first – above all else. As long as you’re happy, you’ll be able to keep everyone around you happy as well. However, I am not a mental health expert. So, if you’re going through something serious, then please seek professional help. And keep washing your hands!

Archi Sengupta
Horror Movies + Cats > People

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