The MASTERS OF HORROR series is turning out to be a solid and steady source of decent horror entertainment as the winter months approach. The latest episode, CHOCOLATE, is probably the least horrific overall, but it has some nice TWILIGHT ZONE elements to it that make it an entertaining hour of television at the very least. Perhaps its lack of gruesome horror comes from the fact that its director, Mick Garris, is a veteran of primarily television projects - most of those adaptations of Stephen King books (most famously, THE STAND).
This episode centers around the character of Jamie, played by Henry Thomas. Yes, that Henry Thomas, the little kid from E.T. Now, all grown up, Thomas plays a divorced father who works in the artificial flavor development field – making him particularly sensitive to tastes and smells. Ironically, he’s also on an “eating-like-a-rabbit” diet, for no real reason other than being alone and miserable.
Strange things start to happen to Jamie, beginning with the sensation of sweet chocolate in his mouth (a taste he can describe in detail due to his particular skill). Soon he gets visions of a sketch of a cat. All in all, it seems that these sensations which occur to Jamie belong to someone else. The most effective of these moments occurs when he begins to flirt with a girl at a rock show (a show featuring his co-worker played by Matt Frewer in a role he’s just a few years too old for). While they’re talking, suddenly Jamie’s hearing transforms into soft classical music – the rock show and the girl’s voice disappear. It’s a very effective use of sound editing.
The visions and sensations escalate – at one point Jamie imagines himself having sex with a man. All becomes clear one day when in his mind he looks in the mirror to see his own naked body – and it is of a beautiful (and I mean BEA-U-TI-FUL) woman, the French Canadian Catherine, played by Lucie Laurier. Jamie has formed some sort of psychic connection with her, and then determines to track her down. Really, who can blame him? Did I mention that she is gorgeous? From this point forward things take a different direction until the story reaches its denouement.
CHOCOLATE works because Garris knows the material so well, having based it his own short story. It has moments of violence and there is blood, but not nearly as much as the previous episodes. It’s more of a curiosity, but a very well-made one at that. From the episode’s opening, I was hooked and the pace kept up until the end. Having Lucie Laurier in the episode certainly helped keep my attention, and I strongly recommend all creators of every film ever made cast this stunning lady.
CHOCOLATE is yet another strong entry in a series that continues to surprise. In terms of pure filmmaking, it’s the best episode since INCIDENT ON AND OFF A MOUNTAIN ROAD. I hope the next episode doesn’t let me down.
RATING: *** (out of four)