A child psychologist, Mike Painter, is doing a talk show to promote the release of his new book. Mike talks about how adulthood is a mask and they're still all the kids they were. He lost a twin brother when he was 12, and finally says that in his birth town of Iron Hill, OH, five kids went missing. The last one, the one they never found, was his identical twin brother Eddie. The interviewer wonders how the family dealt with it, and Mike says that he was sent to live with relatives and has never been there.
Much to Mike's surprise, the interviewer hands him a phone and asks Mike to talk to the 12 year old at the other end. Mike stares at the cameras and starts to object, but the boy on the phone speaks up. The psychologist asks if there's something the boy wants to talk about, but there's no response. After a moment, the boy starts laughing and calliope music sounds in the background. The boy then asks Mike why he's scared to come home. Mike abruptly hangs up the phone and realizes that everyone in the studio has frozen. The phone rings and Mike finally answers it. The interviewer asks why he's scared to come home, and Mike remembers a flaming figure walking down a hallway.
Later, Mike wakes up and gets ready for his day. After looking at his phone, Mike drives and remembers he and Eddie as children in Iron Hills. Once he arrives at his old family home, Mike goes up to the porch. His mother Marla is looking at a dead goldfinch with a girl, Katie. They go inside and Mike points out that she doesn't have any photos of him, Eddie or his father on the refrigerator. Marla says that she manages intrusive thoughts and asks Mike why he came. She assures Mike that he is welcome there but hopes he didn't come there to rip open a wound. Marla explains that someone comes to Iron Hills every couple of years to try and solve the murders, and she was always afraid that one day it would be Mike.
Mike visits the sheriff's station and Deputy Amy Welch knows him from his TV appearances. Sheriff Gary Yolen comes out and greets Mike, and invites him into his office. They talk about growing up together and Gary admits that there is some mystery man breaking into houses but not taking anything. He's read Mike's book and has been keeping up on his career, and Mike asks to see the file on the murders. Gary points out that it's been 28 years since they found the murdered children--minus their teeth--and Mike says that he's writing a book. The sheriff asks if it's going to be a respective book and Mike insists that it will be. Gary says that he married Jessica Hale and invites Mike to have dinner with them that night. He also wants Mike's opinion on his kid and thinks that he's growing up a little strange.
That night, Gary and Jessica have two other couples over and talk about how the community is slowly disappearing. Gary's son Dane comes in and complains that Katie won't let him watch what he wants. Jessica tells him to go to bed, and Gary tells Mike that Dane is obsessed with David Bowie. Mike tells him not to worry about it and points out that they were pretty strange as children.
Jessica talks about how Mike and Eddie made up an imaginary kingdom and the brothers were playing a game of War one day and it just went on and never ended. Jessica talks about how her, Mike, and Eddie watched hours of TV. Mike says that too much TV is bad for kids and excuses himself to go the bathroom.
Katie is watching TV as Mike goes by, and he hears the same calliope music that he heard on the phone. She shushes him and turns to the TV, and then says that it went away. Mike wonders what she watching and Katie whispers something.
Mike returns to the dining room and asks the others if they remember Candle Cove. Jessica does, and Mike says that it was on for two months in 1968. Gary remembers it as well, and Mike says that Katie told him that she was just watching it. Jessica says that the puppets gave her nightmares because they screamed. One man remembers Jawbone, a skeleton thing in a cape that threatened to skin the hide of the other puppets. Mike jerks and knocks his wine glass over, and quickly excuses himself.
As Mike walks out to his mother's home, he looks at the forest and remembers his childhood.
Eddie confronts gang of kids despite Mike's warning. He tells the leader to shove it up his ass rather than pay the tool, and the bully asks if Eddie's father left him because he didn't love him. They fight and the bully quickly shoves Eddie to the ground. Gary is with Mike and reluctantly helps them hold Eddie down. The leader breaks Eddie's finger and lets him up, and Eddie runs off. Gary walks off as well, looking sheepish, and Mike follows his brother home. Eddie is sitting on the living room floor, and finally asks mike not to tell their mother. The TV comes on by itself and calliope music plays. A puppet, Pirate Pete, greets them and says that a strange vessel is coming. The two boys stare at it, entranced, as Pete welcomes them to Candle Cove.
Mike is sleeping in his old bedroom, and hears his mother walking down the stairs. The TV on the dresser comes on, showing nothing but static. Mike goes over to it and finally turns it off. As he turns to go back to bed, he sees Eddie by the window, unaged in 28 years. Eddie calls Mike's name, and Mike reaches out to him.
The next day, Mike is in the nearby field and stares off into the distance. The next morning, Marla discovers that Mike walked in his sleep and is outside in the field. Over breakfast, Mike says that he's been having nightmares. As he gets up to go to town, Mike looks out the window and sees someone on the edge of the woods, standing still. Marla dismisses it as nothing and Mike leaves.
At the Yolen house, Jessica checks on Katie and discovers that she's gone.
Mike goes to the diner and the waitress, Daphne, brings him coffee. A woman, Mrs. Booth, comes in and repeats the lesson grammar that she taught Mike when he was her student. Jessica arrives and asks Mike for help, and they're soon combing the forest for Kelly along with the deputies.
Eddie takes Mike into the forest and they come to the bully. The bully wonders what he wants, but Eddie just stares at him. After a moment, the bully leaves with his friend. They go home and the bully unties his Doberman. It runs into the woods and the brothers see it and runs. The dog chases them and Mike trips. After a moment it turns and walks over to Eddie, who pets it.
As they search the woods, Gary asks Mike who brought up the show. He's surprised that they're airing it again, and asks what channel Katie said it was on. Jessica comes over and talks to Mike privately, and says that Marla said that Mike came in five hours after he left their house. She asks Mike what he's not telling her, and Mike says that Candle Cove may have something to do with Katie's disappearance. He points out that the only time the show aired was when the murders started, and the murders stopped when the show stopped. Mike insists that the show can make people do old things, and Jessica says that she knows about the Stovington psych ward. She figures he came there right after he was released, and Mike says that his wife let him go home to get clothes. He explains that he had an acute stress reaction, but Jessica says that they said he had a psychotic break.
Mike insists that he committed himself voluntarily, and Jessica calls over Gary. When she turns back to Mike, she realizes that he's gone. Gary finally finds her, and Jessica says that she thinks that Mike knows where Katie is. Gary takes his men to look for Mike.
Dane is at home watching the TV when Mike comes in via the porch door. The boy says that Katie told him that Mike would come to see her, and Mike asks him where Katie said she was going. Dane asks him what the Crow's Nest is, and Mike remembers the place from his childhood.
Mike goes home and asks Marla where his father's gun is. He warns her that it may already be too late. Marla tells her son that Gary called and said that Mike was sick, and Mike asks for a chance to get Katei back before it's too life. Unable to find the gun, he grabs a butcher's knife and goes out to a signal tower in the woods near where they found the bodies.
In the past, Eddie takes Mike out into the woods and digs a grave.
Mike calls to Katie but gets no response. He reaches the signal tower--the Crow's Nest--and sees the skeleton from Candle Cove standing nearby, unmoving. Mike goes over and the figure turns and runs. The psychologist chases after it but it escapes into the woods. Mike finds a cliff edge nearby and finds Katie sitting against a rock. Someone moves nearby, but Mike ignores it and carries Katie away. Once he leaves, a child made out of human teeth crawls out of the brush. It picks up two teeth that Katie had lost and moves away.
Later at the sheriff's station, Gary visits Mike in his cell and says that Katie told him that the TV told her where to go. He wonders why Mike went there, and Mike says that he and Eddie used to go there as children. Gary points out that Katie is missing two teeth and then lets Mike go. As Mike gets his things, he sees Gary's jacket on his chair and realizes that the man he saw in the woods earlier was wearing the same jacket.
When Mike leaves, Jessica approaches him and he tells her not to let Katie watch TV. She figures that Mike set the whole thing up for his book, and Mike says that there was never a book. Jessica wonders why he's there, and Mike says that it's calling him.
When Mike goes home, he looks at the scars on his arm. Marla comes in and tells him that he doesn't have to leave, and her son insists that he does. He asks if she remembers Candle Cove, and if she ever saw it after he left Iron Hill. Marla doesn't know what he's talking about, and Mike tells her to forget it up. As she goes, Marla asks who made it up. She explains that Mike and Eddie just sat and watched the static on the TV, and the show was in their heads.
That night, children in Iron Hill are watching Candle Cove. The puppets find a cave and say that there's a new friend inside, and they should go inside.
That night, Mike stops at a motel. His cell phone rings and he answers it. It's the same boy--Eddie--and he says that Mike shouldn't leave because they're just getting started.
Written by Gadfly on Oct 12, 2016