Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block (2018)

A girl named Alice Woods and her sister Zoe have come to the town of Garrett in the hopes of escaping the madness that destroyed their mother. However, there are staircases to nowhere and the Peach family to contend with, even if the rest of the world believes they’ve been gone since the 1950’s. Welcome back to Channel Zero. Things are about to get weird all over again.

From the beginning of the first episode and the strains of “Crucified Woman” by Riz Ortolani (from the film Cannibal Holocaust), you know that this season, you’re in for it. Throw in Rutger Hauer as the leader of the Peach Family and you have a recipe for what is fast becoming the perfect horror show.

Ever since the death of the Peaches’ youngest daughters, they have left our world behind and become part of a side world called Slaughterland, which lies behind the many doorways and staircases to nowhere that show up randomly in Medallion Park. There, they are immortal thanks to the Pestilent God, who randomly asks that children be sacrificed to him.

Alice is the exact opposite — a social worker trying to save people. But soon,  a little girl named Izzy and her mom disappear from her care in broad daylight. Her sister Zoe begins to continually hallucinates the face of the Pestilence King, seeing him no matter where she goes. The Peach Family calls to her to join them, demanding that she help sacrifice Izzy as part of their covenant.

Meanwhile, the girl’s landlady is writing a book all about the horrors of the area now known as Butcher’s Block. Of course, she knows way more than she lets on. And then there are the children of the Peach clan, one of whom is arrested and promptly eats his cellmate before being released by the police with no charges.

Think things are crazy? Get ready — the elder Peach cures Zoe of her schizophrenia by drilling directly into her brain, then invites Louise and Alice to a feast that ends up being Izzy’s mom. Two episodes in and this season has eclipsed all of the Channel Zero terrors that have come before!

The Peaches want Zoe to consume human flesh and become one of them, but she refuses, instead subsisting by eating her own flesh. And Alice? By now, she’s seeing visions of herself as various creatures that look like giant puppet-headed Alices.

What I loved about this season is that the heroines’ roles are reversed by the last few episodes, begging the question of who will save who. And you can understand the motivation of the Peach family, as they went away to avoid the rapidly changing horrors of the world but ended up being changed into something even worse.

There are also goblin children, a meat servant, two generations of policemen forced to face the sins and compromises of the past, 1950’s housewives, a crazy scissors lady and so much more, you’ll wonder how six episodes is enough to contain it all. Unlike the bloated seasons of American Horror Story that rely on stunt casting and deus ex machina endings season after season to increasingly worse effect, Channel Zero has only improved with every successive tale.

I don’t want to spoil anything else for you. I insist that you simply watch the entire season now on Shudder.

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