Syfy is home to a worthy heir of the modern horror series. And with each new season of Channel Zero, the stories just keep getting scarier and more cerebral.
The anthology series brings to life fan-created internet horror stories, called Creepypastas. Stories like "The Rake" and "Slenderman" have even made their way into mainstream popular culture. Channel Zero's first two seasons were inspired by the Creepypastas "Candle Cove" and "No-End House."
The newest season, Butcher's Block, is inspired by "Search and Rescue Woods" but presents a fresh, sinister twist on the original story.
Butcher's Block focuses on two 20-something sisters who move to a new town for a fresh start after personal traumas. Olivia Luccardi (It Follows) and Holland Roden (Teen Wolf) are the Woods sisters. Alice (Luccardi) is a social worker hoping to make a difference in the lives of the town's less fortunate children. Roden is Zoe, a young woman struggling with schizophrenia, addiction and haunting memories.
The titular Butcher's Block is an unsavory neighborhood that's suffering from a string of mysterious disappearances. The sisters soon discover something is preying on the neighborhood's residents, and it all has to do with the Peach family and the strange sightings of staircases in the local park.
Readers of "Search and Rescue Woods" are in for a terror-filled visual treat with Butcher's Block. The original story is a log of incidents experienced or recorded by an anonymous member of a search and rescue team. Many of the insidious and unexplained things from the story are brought to terrifying life in Butcher's Block.
The most notable is the strange set of stairs in the middle of the park. All the locals know never to go near the pristine marble stairs, touch them, walk up them or even look at them too long.
Much of the show features increasingly strange happenings — like that staircase — that most residents brush off as normal, including a particularly wacky woman who enjoys wrapping her hands in sticky black bandages and then asking for scissor to cut them off.
Channel Zero fits nicely in the genre of quality horror. It avoids gratuitous gore and cheap scares in favor of unnerving intensity, ghoulish surreality and deeply disturbing twists. Its seasons are stylistically influenced by horror favorites like The Shining and It Follows with Butcher's Block appearing to borrow from Candyman and David Lynch series Twin Peaks.
Like previous seasons, Butcher's Block is part commentary on real-world issues. It explores trauma, grief and even mental illness without making these issues feel like the show's villain.
While the new season often spirals into the horrifically absurd to the point where it feels comical, Butcher's Block retains the emotional depth that pushed previous seasons into the realm of prestige horror.
Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] Follow @chelseatatham.
Channel Zero: Butcher's Block
10 p.m. Wednesday, Syfy