Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block– Episode 6: “Sacrifice Zone”
Starring: Holland Roden, Olivia Luccardi, Krisha Fairchild, Brandon Scott, Rutger Hauer, Angela Narth, Linden Porco, Annelise Pollmann, Paula Boudreau, Diana Bentley, and Quinton Boisclair
Written by: Angela LaManna, Harley Peyton, and Nick Antosca
Directed by: Arkasha Stevenson
”Do you remember my brother?.”
”I don’t know. What did he TASTE like?”
Channel Zero closes out its best season to date with the brilliantly bloody and surreal “Sacrifice Zone.” Scripted by show staffers Angela LaManna, Harley Peyton, and Nick Antosca and confidently and meticulously staged by director Arkasha Stevenson, “Sacrifice Zone” is a bullet-train of an episode. One that barrels through scares and dreamy set pieces with the energy of a 70’s British horror film. “Sacrifice Zone” caps off a great season with a truly great season finale. One that brings it all home with the same quality and confidence we’ve enjoyed from the jump. In a world littered with new indie and arthouse horror, “Sacrifice Zone” and Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block sets itself above the pack. Thanks to its heart-wrenching humanity, truly impressive practical effects, and commitment to its own brand of violent theatricality.
In terms of plot, “Sacrifice Zone” is a fairly straightforward episode. Having spirited Izzy away from the Peach’s Summer House, Zoe turns to Louise and Luke to help keep her safe from the full might of the Peach clan. They’ve descended their staircase in order to bring Izzy back. They make her the latest offering to the Pestilent God, securing their powers for another cycle. But in the hands of the writing staff and Stevenson, this final episode is anything but straightforward.
It starts like a run of the mill home invasion sequence. However, the episode quickly escalates into a laser-focused showcase of acting and tension. As Rutger Hauer’s Joseph forlornly looks over the bodies of his fallen family, wiping his tears with a blood-stained handkerchief. Then… later sucking the blood from it. Zoe, Luke, Izzy, and Louise try to make their way out through the cramped subterranean tunnels that line the city’s foundations.
They are soon hunted by Joseph in thick, cracked makeup and speaking through the Liden Porco’s Smart Mouth, just to give it one extra layer of WTF. It’s a stagey, severely claustrophobic sequence that is a bit hampered by some hokey looking CGI. That doesn’t dull its ambition and focus on the actors, which has been a real hallmark of this season. But if think this is nuts then “Sacrifice Zone” has more such sights to show you.
After that bit of horrorshow, the episode then settles into a Wicker Man-meets-Hannibal like vibe, hard cutting to a very, VERY pregnant Edie Peach, played by a wonderfully game Diana Bentley, lighting two huge stone ovens, the ritual has begun. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so off-putting. Then we are treated to the full scope and majesty of the Pestilent God as Zoe and Alice confront each other over the fate of young Izzy and each other’s sanity.
It’s a beautifully Lovecraftian turn of events, opulently staged by Stevenson. As the ritual reaches its height, the God descends his own staircase. Leading from the Red Door tucked in the bowels of the Summer House. We see him unleash the “world he holds in his cloak” onto the sisters and his wrath is incurred due to Izzy’s escape. The cost is blood, and it’s his to take. Stevenson and the writers bring the psychedelic trip through a dark cosmos to a close by literally exploding the Peach family. Which, for my money, is some of the best and most beautiful practical gore effects I have ever seen on television.
The episode closes with a bittersweet coda that picks up one year later after the sisters have looked upon the Pestilent God. Both Zoe and Alice have finally found the sense of family they so desperately craved. Zoe has been fully taken in by Louise (the beautifully unflappable Krisha Fairchild), as has Izzy and Luke. This new ramshackle family has made a home in the healing city. Alice, however, receives a different kind of happy ending. She’s been driven mad by the experience and now housed in the same institution as her schizophrenic mother. One final realistic twist of the knife from Stevenson, the writers, and Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block.
Verdict: Watch It. Butcher’s Block Is By Far The Best Season of Channel Zero To Date.
Again, I feel as if my words fail to do this episode justice. I couldn’t stop writing about this show even if I tried. Channel Zero has always been good. Even great at times. Butcher’s Block is hands down the best season the show has ever produced. “Sacrifice Zone” may well be the best episode OF said season. This is saying a lot considering the quality of the season as a whole. Confident, comprehensive, and just hella creepy “Sacrifice Zone” is the kind of episode you will want to watch again right after finishing it. Just to make sure that you actually saw what you saw and it wasn’t just some film inspired dream you had when you had that fever last week. A wonderful end to a wonderfully weird and compelling season of television; one I am glad to have shared with you.
Until next time, fellow creeps, be seeing you.