TV Series Review: Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block (2018)

A horror anthology series created by Nick Antosca, Channel Zero first aired in 2016 on SyFy and has since had four seasons in total. As of November 2019, that is all we will get as the series has now been cancelled sadly.

Each season of Channel Zero focuses on one particular story, each one based on Creepypastas. The first season was based on one of the most famous ones of all, Kris Straub’s Candle Cove. A good start, the unusual storytelling and horror visuals were what really stood out. However, it was a bit boring in places and lacked the emotional weight it wanted to clearly have. You can read our full review of Candle Cove here.

The following year the next season aired (2017) and was based on Brian Russell’s The No-End House and was such a marked improvement over the first season. The story was insane, the visuals utterly transcendent but the characters and emotional weight of their plight was incredible. We loved it and you can read our full review of No-End House here.

Which brings us to Season 3. Called Butcher’s Block and based on Kerry Hammond’s Search and Rescue Woods. Directed by Arkasha Stevenson and starring Rutger Hauer, Holland Roden, Olivia Luccardi, Krisha Fairchild and Brandon Scott. Butcher’s Block is the goriest and most violent of the bunch so far.

That will be the over-riding memory most will have but it’s not fair to say that it is the only thing it has going for it.

 

The story, while so confusing at first is one of the better ones of the entire Channel Zero run. In it we meet sisters, Zoe and Alice. Who have moved to a new city to start a new life. They’re both trying to run from problems but in the case of Holland Roden’s Zoe her problem is something she can’t escape from.

You see she is suffering from schizophrenia. Something that has saw the pair’s mother locked away. She is so frightened of what will happen to her mind.

Oliva Luccardi’s Alice tries to look after her as best as possible but has the spectre of her unpaid student loans rising up behind her. As well as her own fears about the possibility of suffering from the disease too.

The new town seems peaceful, if not a bit rundown. As the sisters get to know the place and its residents they learn of its past, in particular the Peach family.

The family ran a profitable and successful business surrounding meat production. The head of the Peach’s family, Joseph Peach (Rutger Hauer) loved his family unconditionally, in particular his two daughters. Both of who would end up dead at the hands of some of Butcher’s Block’s townspeople. After such a horrific event the remaining Peaches just disappeared.

Since then people go missing in Butcher’s Block and the rumour on the street is that it’s the revenge of the Peach family. Of course, that couldn’t be true could it?

Mixing old-school gory horror with themes of insanity and visuals that are dreamlike, Butcher’s Block is a good entry in the Channel Zero series. The story moves at a decent enough pace, bit slow in places and at others moving a little too fast. However, overall it works. The plot has so many branches to its main narrative that it can take some serious thought to connect all the dots up by the end.

That being said, it’s nowhere as confusing as the previous entries in the series and it wraps up satisfyingly enough.

Tying the horror into the real-life toll that burgeoning schizophrenia has on a person is expertly handled here. It makes you question just what is real and what isn’t but drives the motivations of the sisters perfectly. It also allows for some down-right freaky imagery and monsters to appear, the imagination of those involved running wild it seems.

All of this would be for nought if it wasn’t for a cast that deliver across the board. There isn’t a bad performance here, both Holland Roden and Olivia Luccardi nailing it so well that a late character switch-up doesn’t feel wrong either. The late Rutger Hauer is amazing too. His character is one you can almost feel sympathy for. Whereas one of his sons, Andrew Peach (Andreas Apergis) is the definition of psychotic. His clashing with good-guy cop, Luke (Brandon Scott) is some of the series highlights.

All of that aside, as we said at the start, what you will remember from his series is just how gory it is. If you can’t handle practical effects where blood, guts and everything in between is splashed about with little care then you’re going to struggle with this one. The level of visual horror on show here is incredible and really darkens what is already a very dark series.

Is it best one yet? No way. It’s going to take something unbelievable to top No-End House but this is way better then Candle Cove.




Channel Zero: Butcher's Block (2018)
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    The Final Score - 7/10
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