Syfy’s Channel Zero
Season 3, Episode 4: “Alice in Slaughterland”
Directed by Arkasha Stevenson
Written by Harley Peyton
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “All You Ghost Mice” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Red Door” – click here
What will become of Zoe (Holland Roden) and Alice (Olivia Luccardi) Woods now that they’ve gone through the door at the top of the stairs?
First, skip back to a few years prior. Alice and Zoe are living their lives, though it’s increasingly obvious to the younger sister that there’s something wrong with her big sister.
Back in Butcher’s Block, Luke Vanczyk (Brandon Scott) goes to see Louise Lispector (Krisha Fairchild) – he’s got a dead Robert Peach (Andreas Apergis) in his backseat, says they need to “make a plan.” That’s an understatement, of course. Nevertheless, ole Louise starts helping the young cop wipe the blood down. Sadly after so many years of searching for answers about their neighbourhood, Ms. Lispector is finally seeing the truth, and it is far worse than anything she could’ve ever imagined.
Now we step through the door on the stairs with Alice to find a sprawling field of yellow flowers. At the far reaches is a large plantation-style home. It’s got the feel of the house from the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In the sea of flowers, a doll-like face pokes up to watch Alice pass, so very spooky. Eventually Alice gets frustrated: the more she heads towards the house she just stays in one place, she can never get closer. Frustrating, right? It’s almost like a perverted Wizard of Oz scenario with the poppy fields. Sooner than later Joseph Peach (Rutger Hauer) turns up and likens her to a “crazy rabbit.” He tells her about their “little plantation on top of the food chain.” In the soil is a fleshy, beating bit of organic matter, and Joe pulls up a root to reveal a bunch of fingers growing. Quite the place they’ve got there. You can eat raw fingers fresh from the soil, if only the crops grow well.
What about Zoe? She’s a guest at the Peach plantation, sitting to dinner with them all. Zoe is getting hungrier, as well. Her belly calls out for human flesh after being indoctrinated into the world of cannibalism by Edie Peach (Diana Bentley). She gets a bit of vague history about the family. Then, it’s time to eat!
Back “downstairs,” as the Peachs call it, Robert isn’t dead, either. He’s very much alive, which is going to pose a problem for Luke and Louise. They come back from outside to find him gone. Treading lightly, they look around the basement where they left what they thought was a corpse. Bob comes from the shadows and attacks Louise, but Luke gets the jump on him. This Peach is killed, again. Will he stay dead this time? I have my doubts. I guess they’re trying to take care of business either way, because they’ve decided to cut his body into bits.
In the field, Alice comes across a man doing some pruning. He gives her a riddle, and the answer is a window. This takes Alice back again a few years before. Zoe was descending farther into a space where schizophrenia was beginning to emerge. It seems to me Alice is kicking herself for not seeing how bad her sister was getting, as well as the fact she’s subconsciously terrified her own schizophrenia is waking up.
We witness an incident where Zoe accused their neighbour of being a peeping tom, which also led into more schizophrenia-related troubles such as Zoe denying Alice was even her sister but rather an impostor; so many of the typical delusions people afflicted with the illness often suffer through.
Then Alice snaps out of memory. She sees little Izzy (Annelise Pollmann), covered in white clay that the Pestilent God put on her skin, before the girl runs off. Alice follows, as she’s followed by a skinny figure behind her wearing that doll-like head. Fucking terrifying imagery.
The Peach family and Zoe are having dessert: “Kidney parfait and ear wafer.” Nom, nom, nom! It’s quite the delicacy amongst cannibals, surely. Some of the family are concerned about Robert, others like his brother Aldous (Bradley Sawatzky) couldn’t care any less. In the meantime, Zoe’s struggling with her need for human meat, whereas Edie’s eating for two and chowing down on her dessert.
Back in reality, Luke’s decided to force his father’s hand. He takes a piece of Bob Peach over to Chief Vanczyk (Tyrone Benskin), who opens a bowling bag to find himself staring right at the man’s decapitated head. Instead of being terrified, the Chief just calls his son an idiot. I bet the old lawman knows so much more than he’s let on to his son these many years.
Alice still can’t catch up with Izzy, and she’s still getting riddles from the roaming farmer. Then she looks to see three doors in the midst of the flowers, each different sizes. The smallest one leads back into the park and the playground; the biggest leads to some eerie, vast space like outer space; and the middle-sized door leads into some kind of building with two large statues of flies flanking its staircase. Alice chooses to go through the last of them.
We get the backstory from Chief Vanczyk. Seems that Joseph Peach had reach with the police department, and he gave Vanczyk the chief’s job. That meant looking the other way when certain people in Butcher’s Block disappeared; these were people the cop felt were worthless. It’s a sad, horrifying state of affairs; one Luke wants no part of as a human being or a cop. Love this whole angle, because it’s like a cross between socially conscious horror and crime, plus some downright strange, surreal horror, too.
At the Peach home, Zoe starts cutting herself up rather than eat any of the human feast laid before her. She’s fine with eating her own flesh, just not the flesh of others. She laps up a chunk of beef from her thigh, as Edie watches on with grim delight.
Up the stairs into this new building Alice goes, not knowing what she’ll find. She’s found by the lanky doll figure stalking her. She makes it into a red room through another door. Yet inside is no other way free, and the weird figure beats at the door trying to get in. After a while the door comes down and the doll-like thing moves towards Alice. It reaches out for her, and she screams out for help. Alice sees visions of her mother, of Zoe, a red door. And then she looks up to see Joseph, stabbing the doll creature, black blood spurting out. Joey’s always the saviour. He says it was the “evolution” of her “madness.” If it’s not fully extracted, it will continue this way.
While Luke is burying Bob Peach, he’s attacked by his father and has his throat cut. What an unexpected moment, genuinely shocking. Louise isn’t far, but she can’t do anything to help. Luke is left by his own dad to bleed out in the same grave as the dead Peach.
Joseph brings Alice back to the plantation, where she toasts with the family, and the Woods sisters get one step closer to replacing the murdered Peach daughters. One big, happy family; of cannibals.
An amazing chapter in this season of Channel Zero. I love how unique in horror this show is, and how strange it’s willing to get to freak us out. Plenty of interesting metaphors, too, in terms of how they’re tackling mental illness and specifically schizophrenia.
“The Red Door” is next time. Keep thinking about the significance of the various imagery in this season, including the red door itself.