Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block is reaching new heights of deceptiveness this season. At first glance, it has the most straightforward plot of anything the anthology series has done so far with a pair of mentally troubled sisters being stalked by a family of supernatural cannibals. But halfway through the season’s six episode run the show must be given props for still not giving any clear idea of what’s really going on. On any other show this would be a criticism, but Butcher’s Block somehow keeps all the mysteries ordered in such a way that it doesn’t just feel like weirdness for its own sake.
In the previous episode, Father Time, we learned enough about the sinister Peach family to surmise their goals and motives. In All You Ghost Mice they seem to be actively hunting Alice and Zoe Woods (Olivia Luccardi and Holland Roden and using every hallucinatory, reality-warping trick in their arsenal to do so. Channel Zero has never gone easy on phantasmagoria, but this episode confidently rests all of its weight on visual strangeness. With most of the episode taking place in an abandoned hospital, it takes advantage of numerous horror tropes and gives them a fresh Channel Zero twist. There is a satisfying amount of onscreen violence and gore, but most of the horror is conveyed through Luccardi and Roden’s reaction shots. For all the visual weirdness, it is these young actresses nonverbal communication skills that really sell the nightmarish situation of this episode.
Unlike the familial struggles in Channel Zero’s first two seasons, Butcher’s Block feels more like a straight-up horror film where the tragedy doesn’t lie in the past, but is immediate and all-consuming. All You Ghost Mice feels like a true ending to the first half of the season and that it’s only going to get stranger from here on in. For a series that prides itself on sustained dread, that’s an impressive achievement.
EPISODE 3 ‘ALL YOU GHOST MICE’ SYNOPSIS:
The morning after Alice and Louise found themselves in a spooky dinner party with the long-dead Peach family, they try to regroup and figure out what happened. They bump into Officer Luke in the woods, who is on his way to confront his father for seemingly letting the younger Mr. Peach go after he ATE a dude in prison. Meanwhile, Alice is terrified that she’s started showing symptoms of schizophrenia, while her sister has moved into full-blown cannibalism and begun eating pieces of her own flesh. When Officer Luke catches up to Louise and Nathan (Alice’s social worker work-pal), the three end up being pursued by the younger Mr. Peach himself.
Alice begins to go a little mad when a spidery-version of herself turns up to taunt her, and Nathan is killed by the younger Mr. Peach – while a horrified Louise and Officer Luke look on. When Alice learns that her sister has been taken to that stairway in the woods by Edie Peach, she rushes out after her, only to find she’s too late. She goes through the door after Zoe, even though that’s clearly a bad idea. Finally, Officer Luke has had enough of the younger Mr. Peach’s taunting, and shoots him through the chest.