Monday, October 19, 2009


Cujo, a big ol' lovable St. Bernard, gets bitten by some rabid bats and goes apeshit, killing everyone he comes across. A mother and her young son become trapped in their broke down car in the driveway at Cujo's owner's house, slowly dying of dehydration and unable to open with door without Cujo pouncing.

I read Stephen King's Cujo many years ago. It is a great idea for a horror story, seemingly tailor-made for me as I am fucking terrified of big dogs. Problem is, it's a great idea for a short story more so than a novel. The movie runs into the same problems as the book. Its premise can't sustain its length, so it opts to fly off into useless, endless subplots about extramarital affairs, cereal commercials and divine retribution. I expected they might excise much of this material in the adaptation, but no such luck. Hell, the mom and the boy don't even get trapped by Cujo until halfway into the film.

The parts of the novel Cujo that worked were mostly internal/psychological. It was about what was going through the woman's head as she and her son were becoming more desperate, and what she was willing to do to save his life. That doesn't come across as strongly on film, and the more visceral elements don't pan out. The car, instead of feeling intensely claustrophobic, becomes a limiting and uninteresting location. Cujo's attacks are repetitive and generate precious little suspense. To cap it off, it swaps out the book's memorably bleak ending for a generic, underwhelming happy conclusion.

I should be more receptive to this film than most audiences, and it left me bored and unperturbed.

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