Cujo (1983)

Rating: 18
Length: 1hr 33
Release: 18.11.1963
Director: Lewis Teague
About: Donna, a suburban housewife along with her young son Tad, drives out to the home where a perturbed St Bernard is driven insane by rabies. She must now save herself and her son from a brutal attack.

The Good

  • The second half of this movie is incredible; it taps into basic fears and keeps the body count coming. While Cujo started off as a sweet Saint Bernard he quickly becomes a volatile, foaming-at-the-mouth fuzzy monster. There are two massive dog-related scares that left me petrified; the initial attack on the car and the attack on Donna.
  • There’s an incredible shot in which the camera does a number of 360 degree spins, the revolution getting faster than a teacup ride. It has a emotive and physical effect that is perfect for a horror.
  • The bats that bite Cujo are proper scary. Like the teeth and the hissing. If there was anyone I was invested in from the start, it was poor Cujo. He was having a nice time, chasing a rabbit. He gets bitten and no one cares. No one gets him to a vet. Poor Cujo. Poor, poor, Cujo.

The Bad

  • The music is rather tv-movie and a good chunk of it, doesn’t match the tone of the movie.
  • I feel as if something was missed out in regards to Donna and her views about dogs. Her reaction to Cujo when she meets him for the first time almost hints at a long standing fear or dislike. However, it’s never confirmed. Given that so much time is spent on exposition that had no value, I’m certain they could have dedicated a bit to this.
  • Donna makes some dumb-ass decisions, much like many people in horror movies.

The Ugly

  • The first half of the movie is total dog shit (excuse the pun). The film takes up over 40 minutes developing characters and I really don’t understand why. With the Camber family, the mother and son are built up to just disappear for the second act which feels a little pointless.
  • Then there’s the matter of the lead. What we learn about Donna in the first 45 minutes is that there are problems in her marriage, perhaps because of his stressful and totally BORING job. She’s ‘screwing around’ with her ex boyfriend. Yes, it gives us a final act misdirection when the husband is searching for her, but it also makes her an unlikable character who I am not invested in.
  • Tad, Tadpole, Tadders. The kid takes up a lot of the film and while research has suggested the opening scene has more significance within the book, it feels pointless. Although, I must admit I did like the way in which he prepared to launch himself into the bed once the light was turned out.

Final Thoughts

All in all, there’s way too much build up and not enough pay off. I’d have liked to have seen Donna and Tad get into their peril much earlier and perhaps one of the other deaths happening a little earlier.

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