SYFY’s Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block will test the series in new ways as it becomes the first season to deviate significantly from the original creepypasta story on which it is based. The third season of the horror anthology series is based on the eight-part story ‘Search and Rescue Woods,’ by Kerry Hammond. Like some other popular creepypasta, the story unfolds in sections meant to resemble a chat room or comments section. This particular story involves the peculiar goings-on encountered by a member of a Search and Rescue team, including several strange and unsettling events that go well beyond missing persons, like the spontaneous disappearance of children, supernatural beings in the woods, and the most resonant element: the unexplained and seemingly random sets of stairs found deep in the wilderness.
Unlike Candle Cove or last year’s terrific No-End House, the latest installment of Channel Zero doesn’t maintain the original story’s title. But that’s just the beginning of the changes Butcher’s Block has made in its journey from the internet to cable television. For one thing, the series has moved its setting to an urban locale, one marked by socioeconomic disparity, and that counts a once-prominent family’s violent and disturbing fall from grace as part of its local color.
In a recent interview with Screen Rant, series creator Nick Antosca discussed the aim of the writers’ room in deviating so much from the original story, and how, as he puts it, the team ended up traveling down such a “disturbing rabbit hole.” Antosca said:
“First I'd say this season is the furthest we've departed from the original creepypasta. And that wasn't the original intent. I'm huge gan of Kerry's story. When we got into the writers' room, the image of the stairs and the idea of the missing people being associated with the staircase, it just inspired a lot of ideas, and you have to follow the idea where it takes you, so we went down a really interesting and disturbing rabbit hole. And we had to ask some questions: Where do the stairs lead? Who uses the stairs? And when we started thinking about those questions, we decided to change the setting from deep in the woods to a more populated place. Because it offered more story possibilities, and more metaphorical ideas. But also because in the first season, we spent so much time in the woods, and we wanted to be this season to have a different flavor, different locations.”
Viewers who have read ‘Search and Rescue Woods’ likely already have an idea of just how far removed Butcher’s Block is from that creepypasta. Just one look at the marketing for the new season serves up a wildly different story. But given how much Antosca and his writing team have to expand on this short story that’s mostly a first-person recollection of strange events, the change was inevitable.
Fans of horror and creepypasta alike will be able to decide for themselves if the departure from the source material was worth it, as Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block premieres tonight.
Channel Zero: Butcher’s Block premieres Wednesday @10pm on SYFY.