Is it just me or does everyone else have that movie when they were a child that they just hated for absolutely no good reason? I’m curious if that is a normal thing or if that is just something stuck in my little mind. Either way, while I was growing up I could not help but detest the movie Cujo and to this day I still am not entirely sure why. It isn’t that the movie was unfaithful to the book or that the movie itself was not scary, or that it was too scary that I could never look at a Saint Bernard the same way again. For whatever reason, I just could not stand it and have not watched it again until just recently and after watching it a second time… I still do not understand why I hated it so much as a kid. It isn’t like the movie is great, but at the same time it isn’t terrible or really anything to get angry about. It is just a decent horror story. So I thought it would be fun to share my opinions on another Stephen King story turned movie and my former but no longer most hated movie of all time, Cujo.
The Trenton Family is your average every day suburban family. Donna and Vic Trenton (Dee Wallace and Daniel Hugh-Kelly) live a normal middle class life with their young son Tad (Danny Pintauro). In order to repair their car, the family travels out to the residence of a local mechanic named Joe Camber (Ed Lauter) where they meet Joe’s family as well as their friendly family dog, a St. Bernard named Cujo who just recently had an unfortunate encounter with a bat that left a bite on his nose. However at the Camber house, things take a turn for the worse when Cujo begins to succumb to rabies and turns the docile dog into a killing machine Donna and Tad return to the mechanic for more repairs when the dog attacks them. They hide in the car, but the alternator dies, making it impossible to escape. The movie then follows Donna and Tad as they are trapped in their Ford Pinto, kept in check by the imposing Cujo.
The Movie Builds Suspense From Very Little
With what the film has to work with, it does a great job building suspense and terror for this family who feels as if they are trapped on this own little island that is the Trenton’s Ford Pinto. When the majority of your film takes place in nothing more than a car with a rabid dog circling it like some sort of demented land shark, you can’t help but feel the terror and dread of what might happen to this poor wife and child if they are caught by this tiny dog or even worse, watch them slowly die of heat stroke or dehydration.
You will have to give it to this movie, if there is one dog that people are unjustifiably terrified of it is certainly a Saint Bernard and it is because of this movie. Saint Bernards are adorable huge fluff balls and this movies turns something so cute and innocent into an unrelenting killing machine. Made even worse that this villain is something that could happen to anyone of us who has a big dog. One bad bite and unchecked shots can turn the cuddly house pet into a 100+ lbs monstrosity whose only goal is to tear everyone around it a new asshole. It is a personal favorite of mine when a movie can take something so innocent and twist it into something so foreign and terrifying.
It Can Become Boring
Let’s face it. As much suspense as it builds and terror it creates. When you get right down to it, Cujo is just kind of boring. The movie is about a mother and son trapped in a Ford Pinto… It is a little hard to stretch that out into a 90 minute movie. The build up is decent enough, but once Donna and Tad become trapped in the car with Cujo constantly stalking them, you begin sitting back and saying. For the love of god, run for it, try to hide in the house, do something besides sit in that damn Ford Pinto!
The film attempts to pad this out with numerous attempts to escape the Pinto as well as a fun little altercation with a randomly placed Sheriff… But with the lack of actual events in the movie. This gets drawn out to make 90 minutes feel like several hours.
At the end of the day, I still cannot see what I disliked about Cujo so much growing up. Maybe it was because it can grow boring in the middle of the movie and very tedious… But I’m still not sure. Cujo is decent. It is not one of Stephen King’s most memorable works and definitely not one that I would think would be turned into a movie. But with the source material, the cast and crew really made something interesting and terrifying and on that area, I applaud them.
Final Score 2.5/5
Thanks for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. I’ll be in Roanoke for a few days, hopefully while there I will get a chance to stop by my old favorite theater, the Grandin Theater to catch a new release. You can also look forward to a new podcast as well.