As many people on my Facebook know, my next writing project is a parody: a dark comedy by the name of Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors. I’ve always loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I enjoyed the book when I was a kid, and it’s probably one of the extremely few Roald Dahl books I revisit as an adult and don’t feel stupid for admitting out loud I still treasure. I loved the 1970s movie, maybe even more than the book if that’s even possible. The 2003 movie by Tim Berton… Yeah, I pretend that one doesn’t exist. But everything else is filled to the brim with warm fuzzy nostalgia.
As an adult, though, I noticed something. This movie, when you really stop and think about it, could very easily be interpreted as a sort of horror movie. Hear me out before you go all nuts here.
Typical horror movies have a cast of victims. Five is a pretty good average, and Chocolate Factory has five kids. One by one, the victims get picked off by a killer: your Freddy Krugers, or your Michael Miarses and what have you. One by one, the kids get picked off by Wanka’s various inventions. Until finally, the one character nobody wants to see die makes his grand escape. Or in the case of Charlie Bucket, he survives the tour, and gets a lifetime supply of chocolate and the keys to a factory.
“But TJB,” you ask, “all those kids were ungrateful little brats who had it coming! How is that a horror movie?”
Simple. It’s the exact kind of horror movie you’d see from Eli Roth: the bane of my, and many other horror fans’ existence.
If I’ve learned nothing else from my horror film phase, I’ve learned that try as he might, Eli Roth just doesn’t get it. Virtually every victim in an Eli Roth movie deserves everything they get, because before they become victims, every single one of them are unrelatable dicks who you can’t wait to watch die.
In a good horror movie, a maximum of one character should ever be like this. Maybe he’s the first to get picked off by the killer. That way, you get a feel for the kind of atrocities the castmembers you don’t want to see die are in for. You’re not supposed to want to see people die: you’re supposed to want the victim to escape! Sure, if you’re a horror fan like I am, you know for a fact around three out of five victims are going to die. Hopefully, it’s not the character you identify with the most, and it’s especially crushing when that character ends up being one of the victims.
Eli Roth is less of a horror director writer, and more of a snuff film director writer. I watched Hostile a long time ago, and I honestly can’t think of a single person in that movie who deserved to live. The fact one of them got away was the real disappointment of the movie, and that’s how you know you’ve failed as a horror writer.
I’m not saying make everyone a saint straight out of bible camp (trust me, I made that mistake already, so I know it doesn’t work), but the characters should have some sort of redeemable qualities to them. Even the jerk deserves to have a moment of clarity before he dies, right?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in my opinion, is almost like Eli Roth horror for kids. I say ALMOST, because Charlie Bucket is probably the only redeemable character in the entire group. Aside from him, you’re watching characters like Veruca and Violet get exactly what they deserve: an absurd, ironic, and possibly even violent end. It would be violent for sure if Roth were writing the novel instead of Dahl.
But hey, that’s just a theory. Not a game theory… Maybe a film theory, but I’m guessing good ol’ MatPat holds the copyright to that. Whatever, I’ve spoken what needs spoken. Am I insane? Am I a genius? You decide.
Charlie’s Chocolate Factory of Unspeakable Horrors is coming soon. I’ll be the first to let you know when it’s done and when it’s available. In the meantime, stay tuned to my facebook for updates on that front.