Butcher’s Block, a tale wrapped in gore, dread and a suffocating uneasiness, is the latest from Channel Zero and a worthy companion to the previous entries in the franchise.
If there’s one thing Channel Zero has perfected in its previous 2 seasons, it’s how to inject dread-fuelled horror in an effective, anthology format across an entire season. Butcher’s Block, a tale wrapped in gore, dread and a suffocating uneasiness, is the latest from Channel Zero and a worthy companion to the previous entries in the franchise. Although there are times where the fear dissipates from the relentless opening episode, the new characters are interesting enough to carry this deliciously evil tale along to the satisfying finale.
Much like the previous seasons, Channel Zero’s Butcher’s Block wastes no time getting to the heart of the horror. The tale begins with two sisters Alice (Olivia Luccardi) and Zoe (Holland Roden), moving to a new city to escape their troubled past and their mother currently locked up in an asylum. All is not what it seems when they move and both sisters quickly become entangled in a mysterious bout of disappearances that may be linked to a bizarre staircase in a park leading to an ominous door at the top. In what seems to be customary for this series, the pace is suffocating and agonisingly slow as the story builds slowly and more horror and grotesque imagery are flaunted on screen. As the plot thickens, the two girls wind up face to face with the mysterious Peach family and most of the 6 episodes revolve around the uneasy tension between the girls and the family. In many ways, Butcher’s Block feels like a combination of the previous two seasons – the Peach family setting feels like a revamped version of The No-End House from season 2 and the monster design and fear feel like an extension on the Candle Cove dolls from season 1. Thankfully there’s just enough originality glueing these two familiar elements together to make Butcher’s Block a solid entry on its own.
If the plot feels overly familiar at times, the characters absolutely do not. Whether it be the eclectic supporting characters or the fascinating dynamic between the two sisters and how that changes as the episodes progress, Butcher’s Block not only features some great acting but also some well-worked dialogue too. What begins with Alice as the dominant protagonist slowly evolves to shine the spotlight on Zoe late on. Without giving too much away, there’s a complete protagonist shift here which is such a rare thing to see in a series, let alone one with horror as the focal point.
Whilst Butcher’s Block may not have the same menacing uneasiness the Candle Cove characters had in the first season, the profound lack of jump scares and shock in some of the genuinely unnerving and stomach-churning scenes more than make up for it. Butcher’s Block may lose some of the momentum and pure horror it had during the opening episode but the way it quickly replaces this with dread-induced anxiety and tension throughout makes sure it doesn’t fizzle out like The No-End House, which couldn’t quite sustain the horror.
There’s a reason Channel Zero is dubbed by many as one of the best horror anthologies. The mix of pure horror, tension and disturbing imagery make this a truly unique ensemble of tales unique to anything else out on TV right now. Butcher’s Block may lack a little originality, taking the best elements of Candle Cove and The No-End House and spinning them into what we have here, but the impressive character work and gripping self-contained story prove this is still one of the best horrors on TV today and very much deserving of the lavish praise it’s received.