Sunday, July 14, 2024

Welcome to Butcher’s Block

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If you see a staircase in the woods, whatever you do, don’t go up.


Alice is in for a job interview with Nathan, a guy from the local social services. He has a lot of crazy stories from the job, and especially from working with local police. Including urban myths of this staircase that will appear from time to time, often out in the woods. All the cops on the force know not to climb it, and above all else, not to walk through the door at the top. There was a case not too long ago of a young teenage couple finding the staircase in the woods. The boy was never seen again.

Alice and her sister Zoe move into their new place, the house of a retired reporter named Louise. They receive a hefty warning from the local crazy lady not to stray into the Butcher’s Block neighborhood, where the Peach’s Meat factory used to run. In turn, Alice warns their landlady about her sister. Zoe is still in recovery from substance abuse addiction, which apparently involves doing a fair amount of cocaine. The sisters have had a rough time of it. Their mother has recently been institutionalized, and it looks like the condition might be hereditary.

Alice and her new partner take a trip down to the Butcher’s Block neighborhood to meet with a family. The little girl was bitten while she played in the park, and because she told a fantastical story about how she got the bite, authorities assumed the mother must in some way be involved. Alice can feel that something is off. Not just with the story, but with the house. There is something… a child, or a small man… inside of the walls. She goes to visit the little girl in her room, only to find a hole in the wall. In the space between, something is scratching frantically. Or sniffing. Alice calls Nathan to the room to take a look. The door closes behind him. The little girl disappears, and the mother starts to scream. By the time Nathan shoulders open the door, the little girl and her mother are gone.

Police arrive shortly after, but they’ve already written the case off as the mother stealing away her child. Alice isn’t convinced. Later that night, she brings Zoe with her back to the house. She’s afraid Izzy, the little girl, might still be hiding inside. Finding no trace of the Izzy, Alice walks to the park nearby, where Izzy said she got bitten. Alice finds her hiding spot, a little wooden fort under a big tree. While she looks inside, an old man approaches her. He introduces himself as Joseph, and claims he owns the park and lives nearby. Where his house once was, now stands a playground. The very playground the teen couple disappeared in, months passed.

At the house, Zoe sees what seems to be a small child in a mask. Assuming it’s Izzy, she chases after them all the way through the park. The chase ends at the mysterious marble staircase, with the white door at the top. At the bottom of the steps, the small person in the red cloak appears to be eating something. When they turn, Zoe sees that it is a little, malformed man eating a stray cat. He’s about to attack her when the door opens. A bizarre creature steps out, a flayed man with no face. As though under its control, the little man turns walks the stairs and through the door. The stairs vanish.

Zoe is thrown off by what she saw, unsure of whether it was another hallucination or something outside of herself. Yet she is convinced that she must escape the town and get as far away from Butcher’s Block as possible. Unable to win over Alice, she leaves without her. But she encounters Joseph at the bus stop.

Alice checks in with their landlady and finds that the woman is, in fact, investigating the disappearances around Butcher’s Block. Her theory? It’s all linked back to one person, or one family: the Peach family, who owned Peach’s Meats before their mysterious disappearance. As Alice pours over the landlady’s research, she finds that the photograph of the Peach family patriarch is, in fact, the old man she met in the park… Joseph Peach.


Let me preface by saying that I am by no means a creepypasta connoisseur. Going into this season, I wasn’t certain which pasta the show writers were going to be adapting. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, this time around at least, they are adapting a collection of pastas. And this time around, I’ve read one part.

The creepypasta in question is Search and Rescue Woods by Kerry Hammond. Like a lot of pastas, the collection poses as reposts from a chat forum thread. The original poster (OP) is a Search and Rescue (SAR) officer from quite an interesting area. They have a lot of weird stories to share from the job, and interestingly the last one in the first post is the most memorable. It’s about an intact staircase that SAR officers will come across so frequently in the woods that it’s become a part of their routine. OP was told by their superiors that coming across the staircase several times throughout a search is completely normal. Yet it’s also impressed upon OP that you must NEVER walk up the staircase.

The first episode of Butcher’s Block does a fantastic job in fleshing out the world of Garrett, the fictional town of the OP. The writers could have taken the easy route in making their protagonist a Search and Rescue officer. It would have given them plenty of opportunities to get straight to the scares. Instead, they opted to have our protagonists be outsiders. Two sisters on the run from their institutionalized mom. To boot, our main protagonist is a social services worker. It’s a hard stretch to get a social service worker into haunted woods, but it works seamlessly.

Better yet, because Alice works in social services, we understand why she has more empathy for the missing in Butcher’s Block. SAR officers, like the OP who wrote Search and Rescue Woods, become desensitized pretty quickly. Alice and Zoe provide a fresh pair of eyes for us to see and feel through, as we too are experiencing Garrett for the first time. I have a feeling there is much more to the intrigue than rests on the surface. So much of the promotion for Butcher’s Block showed off sequences of Alice and Zoe inside the mysterious Peach household—likely at the top of those stairs—eating mysterious meat and having their brains cut open. Following that train of thought, it appeared this season would focus on the mystery of what the Peach family were doing.

But that answer is obvious. The Peach family are eating people. The people that go missing. So they’ve filled that void with tons of other juicy questions. Already, in the promo for episode two, we see Alice getting her brain cut into Hannibal the Cannibal-style. As deep as the original pasta goes, I have a hunch that Butcher’s Block intends to dig even deeper.

Images Courtesy of SyFy

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