The Horror Honeys: Why Aren’t You Watching Dimension 404?

Why Aren’t You Watching Dimension 404?

A Horror TV Honey Web Exclusive Series Review with Kat Wells

Dimension 404 (2017-)

Dimension 404 is certified Family Friendly
for horror fans!

“In the darkest depths of cyberspace, there is another world. A lost dimension, home to wonders unseen, terrors unspeakable, and stories unlike any ever told. Do not click back. Do not reload. You have reconnected... to Dimension 404.”

Dimension 404, the new science fiction anthology series streaming on Hulu, is the latest offering from Freddie Wong’s production company RocketJump (of Video Game High School fame). A millennial Twilight Zone/Outer Limits that “explores the wonders – and terrors – of our digital age,” the first season (and dear GOD let there be a season 2) is alternately frightening, touching, and hilarious, always clever, and most important of all: it’s fun. 

Packed with fantastic guest stars (including some comedy and horror royalty), this show explores the darker side of how technology interacts with humanity, without the soul-crushing bleakness of Black Mirror. What’s more: whether you grew up on The Twilight Zone, Tales From the Darkside, Amazing Stories, or Goosebumps, you will find something to connect to in this series. Oh, and it’s narrated by Mark Hamill. Squee to the 404th power.

Episode 1: Matchmaker

“Cows don’t leave the slaughterhouse, steaks do. Chew on that.” 

Greg (iZombie’s Robert Buckley) is tired of searching the old fashioned way for his soulmate, which prompts his roommate to set up a profile for him on the dating website “Make-a-Match,” a company run by the well-dressed and calculating Dr. Matthew Maker (a perfectly cold Joel McHale). Greg is shocked when the site pairs him with a girl (Lea Michele) who fits every one of his dream qualities. This wouldn’t be an anthology Sci-Fi show if everything was as it seems, though, and Greg is soon faced with a reality-shattering revelation that is darker than the brightly-lit world of this episode would otherwise suggest. Though not my favorite of the season, this episode has heart and is definitely worth a watch.

Episode 2: Cinethrax

“There’s no stopping progress, so... why resist?” 

Dusty (Patton Oswalt) is a middle-aged cinema nerd whose favorite thing in the world is to take his niece Chloe (Sarah Hyland) to the movies. Their bond has always been strong, bolstered by a mutual love of horror/Sci-Fi classics like They Live!; unfortunately for Dusty, Chloe has reached an eye-rolly age where she is realizing that being a cinephile with a stained t-shirt doesn’t get you in with the popular crowd (in this case, a bunch of giggly, vapid teenage girls who think it’s acceptable to talk during movies). Dusty, growing increasingly irritated with the pretension of the theater (a vegan sausage biscuit with jalapeno chutney? What happened to fucking POPCORN at the movies??), nonetheless relents when Chloe asks to see Chosen: The Final Saga (Part 1) in Cinethrax, “the next dimension in cinema.” Eschewing the official Cinethrax glasses in favor of his own 3D specs, Dusty can see something happening in the theater that nobody else can, and now, everyone’s lives may depend on him. This is a fantastic episode of television about loneliness, feeling left behind, and the power of love. You may need a box of tissues.

Episode 3: Chronos

“The greatest power in the universe is right between your ears.” 

Susan Hirsch (Ashley Rickards) is a math/science/physics whiz with a tendency toward procrastination who has found herself with eight hours to write a term paper that will determine whether or not she graduates from college. When her friend Alex (Utkarsh Ambudkar) shows up at her house to ask how her paper is coming along, Susan winds up on a tangent about her favorite animated childhood TV show, Time Ryder (think Wishbone meets Captain Planet; a superhero named Time Ryder and his gang of “Chrono-teens” fight crime... across time!), and discovers that all of her Time Ryder memorabilia has suddenly disappeared! It’s as though Time Ryder never existed. What a temporal conundrum! If only Time Ryder himself were here to save the day. And that’s just when he shows up. Along with her childhood hero, Sue and Alex take a wild journey all the way back to the nineteen nineties, where they discover that the very fate of the universe may rest on Susan’s shoulders. If this sounds a bit convoluted, it kind of is, but it’s also a lot of fun. Watch for the nineties feels and many time travel puns.

Episode 4: Polybius

“To survive in Frogger, and in life, you have to obey two simple rules: keep thy head down, and run like hell.” 

Set in 1984 and centered around a nerdy outcast who aspires to a career as a video game critic, this episode embodies all of the fun things about 80s nostalgia without shying away from the horrors of the still common post-gym-class group shower with bullies who like to throw around the word “faggot.” Ryan Lee (Super 8, Goosebumps) plays Andrew, an awkward teen who spends every spare moment he has away from his uber-Christian parents at Wilma’s Arcade, run by the curmudgeonly Wilma (played perfectly by Adrienne Barbeau). Andrew dreams of getting one of his reviews published in “Bits & Blips” magazine, but they only want reviews of brand new games. Like a monolith from the heavens, a brand new machine mysteriously shows up at Wilma’s, and Andrew is convinced that this is his ticket to becoming a published game reviewer. But there is something sinister about this game, about Wilma, and about the mysterious government agent who shows up and starts sniffing around. In the face of imminent danger, Andrew, who has spent his whole life running from things he is afraid of, must resolve to stand his ground and fight. This is an episode about learning to love yourself, reach out to other people, and being brave in the face of life’s trials. It’s also a perfect example of how Dimension 404 manages to tackle really dark subject matter while keeping things light. Spooky bonus: it turns out that this story pulls from a real-life urban legend about a dangerous arcade game...

Episode 5: Bob

“A magic genie grants you one wish. What do you wish for?” 
“I wish...I wish there was a Santa Claus.” 

A Christmas episode! Every good anthology show has to have a Christmas episode! It’s the week before Christmas, and Captain Jane Lee (Constance Wu), an Army psychologist, wants nothing more than to get home to her wife and little girl for the holidays. Unfortunately, duty calls and Jane is summoned by higher ups in the NSA (headed by none other than Megan Mullally) to provide counsel to a depressed supercomputer named Bob (voiced to perfection by Tom Noonan). Bob is a gigantic, room-sized glob of humanoid tissue capped off with one mechanical eye, and he’s having trouble hunting down a terrorist who is looking to blow up a lot of people this Christmas. Because Bob’s problem appears to be psychological, the NSA is hoping Jane can get him past whatever combination of zeros and ones is causing his “mental” block. The problem winds up being a little more complicated (and emotional) than anyone anticipated, and Jane must help Bob while getting over some psychological hurdles of her own. This is one of the tearjerkers of the season and is so good, it could wind up in your permanent holiday viewing rotation.

Episode 6: Impulse

“He’s a one-man wrecking crew!” 
“I’m a one-woman army.” 

Val Hernandez (Lorenza Izzo) is an impulsive gamer with dreams of greatness. First person shooters are her bread and butter, and she’s so good that her nickname on the competitive scene is “Speed Run.” With her head constantly in the clouds, Val hasn’t made much time for family, or for any other important life stuff, like getting a job or moving out of her dad’s house, and her selfishness is starting to take a toll on those around her. She knows that if she can just win the next important competition (and beat the arrogant reigning champion, “Killohertz”), the money and prestige it will afford her will be enough to change her life in all the right ways. That’s when a mysterious man approaches her with what seems like the keys to the kingdom: an energy drink called Impulse 9 that slows time, taking away all impediments to being the greatest gamer ever! Of course, there’s a catch: when you’re on it, you essentially black out, and when you “snap back” you’ve lived the missed time without remembering any of it. Val, obsessed with being the best, takes a lot too much and winds up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland in the year 2029 A.I. (After Impulse). Having missed the last decade or so of her life, she must decide whether she will continue to let selfishness rule, or whether she’ll finally step up and be a contributing part of the community around her.