Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block– Episode 3: “All You Ghost Mice”
Starring: Olivia Luccardi, Holland Roden, Krisha Fairchild, Brandon Scott, Andreas Apergis, Diana Bentley, Linden Porco, and Rutger Hauer
Written by: Angela LaManna, Justin Boyd, and Nick Antosca
Directed by: Arkasha Stevenson
Review by Justin Partridge
Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block doubles down on its artistry and atmosphere in its chilling third episode “All You Ghost Mice.” Picking up mere moments after last week’s installment, writers Justin Boyd, Angela LaManna, and Nick Antosca and director Arkasha Stevenson take all the horror and tension of the show and pour it into a neatly contained bottle episode. One that not only expounds on the creepiness of the Peaches but also gets our leading women face-to-face with the horrors lurking in their own minds. Armed with a Stanley Kubrick-like eye and a surreal Junji Ito-esque energy, “All You Ghost Mice” solidifies this season’s status as the best and most-effective horror show on TV.
After waking up from the bloody family dinner party from last week’s episode, both Alice and Louise are shaken. But, reinvigorated to bring the Peaches down and end their reign of terror that has infected the city. “You’ve drawn him out,” says Louise and now all they have to do is strike. But, of course, that’s easier said than done. Alice is still reeling from seeing her own blossoming schizophrenia given a human form. To make matters worse, Zoe is starting to become what the Peaches made her, self-harming in order to feed her new bloody appetites. This is where the episode well and truly starts to cook. Pun very much intended.
From here and for the remainder of the episode, we are locked in a nearly abandoned hospital. Another example of the fabulously innocuous world-building this season has excelled at, with nothing but the horrors inside the women’s minds and a grinning, tap dancing Robert Peach. Though Arkasha Stevenson’s directing has been great thus far, “All You Ghost Mice” finds her at her most precise. Her camera hovers over desolate doorways and heavily shadowed corridors with laser focus. Amping up the episode’s dread and sense of style, taking the sterile environment and transforming it into a hazy house of horrors.
Stevenson also has a tremendous groundwork to play off of this episode thanks to Angela LaManna, Justin Boyd, and Nick Antosca’s script this week. Though the beating heart of pathos centered around Alice and Zoe’s fraught relationship is still at the show’s core, the trio, along with Stevenson, start to deploy more surreal and unsettling set pieces, seemingly emboldened by last week’s Twin Peaks homages.
Set pieces like Father Time (Alice’s name for her sickness) slowly inching into frame, limbs disgustingly contorted, in the background behind Alice as she admits that Joseph may have fucked with her head. Jeff Russo’s plucking, discordant string score dominating the sound design behind Olivia Luccardi and Holland Roden’s raw, nakedly human performances. Another stand out comes mere seconds afterward as Alice stands in the doorway of her sister’s room only to be greeted by the crying image of her mother… stabbing herself repeatedly with the very knife that Zoe used to take her first meal. Scary stuff to be sure, but thankfully Stevenson’s camera and the staff’s deftly human touch when it comes to scripting keeps it from being just mindless bloodletting, and cheap jump scares.
Verdict: Seriously, Watch It. Buoyed by dreadfully good scripts, stylishly methodical direction, and powerfully human performances from Olivia Luccardi, Holland Roden, and Krisha Fairchild, Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block continues to outdo itself week after week. We only have three episodes left this season, but I truly believe that “All You Ghost Mice” is going to be an episode that we talk about once our year-end Best Of lists start floating around. If you are a long time fan of horror who has longed for a more ambitious and intelligent take on the genre, or if you even have a passing interest in what Channel Zero has to offer, you owe it to yourself to sample the bloody delights of Butcher’s Block.
Until next time, glampires, be seeing you.