Channel Zero: Butcher's Block: "Insidious Onset" (S03Ep01)

 Starring: Krisha Fairchild, Rutger Hauer, Brandon Scott, Olivia Luccardi, Holland Roden
Written by:  Nick Antosca    Based on the Creepy Pasta story:  “Search and Rescue Woods,” by Kerry Hammonds
Directed by:  Arkasha Stevenson
“When you set out to change the world, the world changes you instead.”

Some people call me a horror purest. That term has changed a lot over the last ten to fifteen years.The term is almost archaic, with the bold ways people present a slasher, ghost story, or zombie film. Trying to find new ways to scare, unnerve, or creep you out, more people are coming up with Creepy Pasta stories. This is a good thing, just like the new Indie horror films. Horror is always evolving, ever-changing to give us a new view of the genre people said would go no where.

That said, let’s put Nick Antosca right up there with Harrison Smith (“Death House”), Peter Simeti (writer “The Chair”), and yes, even King and Richard Chizmar. Nick takes stories and builds on the foundation already laid. When “Channel Zero” first premiered, he set the bar high. Playing on the fears of adults from when they were kids, the show was a hit. Season two, “No End House” dug into how far would we go to get something we wanted. Now, with “Butcher’s Block,” he gives us the most visceral entry yet. 

“Insidious Onset” introduces us to the Wood sisters; Alice (played by Olivia Luccardi), a young social worker who has moved with her sister Zoe (played to a tee by Holland Roden) to a new town. They are estranged from Mom, who, though it’s said/not said, had a mental breakdown at 26. Zoe seems to take after Mom, having an “insidious onset” mental illness at the same age. Mom tries to call, but Alice basically brushes her off, not telling her where they moved to. Alice describes Zoe as being “in a transitional phase.” Basically, Zoe is off her meds and wakes up each morning to do a line. The breakfast of champions (Seriously kids, don’t do drugs.). Zoe hears voices and has some trouble with reality. At one point, Zoe rails at Alice, saying the only reason they moved was because Alice is afraid of becoming like Zoe and Mom. Alice is 26, after all.

Alice, learning the social worker ropes from a seasoned (yet jaded) vet, Nathan. The first thing he tells her, at the very start, do not go in the park. For anything…ever. But if you do go in the park, NEVER go up the staircase. I’m not going to give a lot away, as this is a review, not a recap. You **have** to see it. We meet Louise, the sisters’ landlady…(I am so in love with Krisha Fairchild), who is also the local taxidermist and has many displays of her work throughout her house. Zoe loves the stuffed lynx. Louise also runs off the local “crazy” lady, (she’s  wearing black gloves) Diane, who is in search of a pair of scissors “To cut off her bandages” showing black gloved hands. (“Never give her scissors,” Louise advises them). Diane finds scissors…she cuts her bandages off aka her skin n her hand, then tries to attack Zoe with scissors to the eye. Well, no scissors for you, Diane.

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 After moving in, Alice’s first day of work begins with trying to make it easier for CPS to come take Isabelle, aka Izzy, out of mother Tanya’s home. Butcher’s Block, an area of town that give a whole new meaning to “the wrong side of town.” People go missing in Butcher’s Block, often people no one would miss. Butcher’s Block gets its name from the slaughterhouse (that’s **always** a good sign, right, Leatherface?) that dominated the area. Peache’s Meats, owned by Joseph Peach (who else cheered when the wonderful Rutgar Hauer entered the scene?). When the family business closed, the family went missing. Yet Alice and Zoe have both met Joseph at different times in the episode. While Nathan and Alice are at Tanya’s, Alice goes to talk to Izzy, who’s playing in her room. They chat, Alice trying to bond a bit, when Alice notices a small face-shaped hole in the wall. Alice calls Nathan in, as he comes in, Izzy runs out, slamming and locking the door behind her. Alice and Nathan hear the Mom scream, as Nathan breaks through the flimsy door. When they get into the living room, a burning cigarette is just left on the couch…no sign of anyone…or anything. They call the cops and we meet Officer Luke Vanczyk (Brandon Scott)…he seems to have history in town, as Nathan recognizes the last name (no clue what and I probably wouldn’t tell you if I knew). He brushes off the worried Alice, telling her Tanya probably took off with Izzy because of CPS. Later that night, Alice and Zoe head back to the house, Alice sure something has happened.

While Alice looks inside and out for Izzy, finding the “Lady Tree” Izzy mentioned, and a small shed. Inside she sees lollies and candy, as well as an ax. While Zoe, seeing a small figure in a red-hooded onesie, chases it, thinking it’s Izzy. This chase leads Zoe to the park….deep in the park. Zoe begins to hear the voices again, as the red hood stops at the base of a gleaming white staircase. The homunculus (Latin for “small figure”) turns around, a grim on its misshapen moves toward Zoe, now thoroughly terrified, between the voices and the advancing figure. It raises a meat mallet…when suddenly

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This figure appears and leads the red hood up the stairs and through the door. We are left with a terrified Zoe going back to Izzy’s house, to her waiting sister. 

Am I exited for the rest of the episodes? Hell yeah I am. Don’t miss one the most well written, well cast, and over all banging series.

Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block is on SyFy, Wednesdays, at 10pm. Join The Twiztid One, won’t you?