Book & Movie Review: Cujo

For those who have neither read the book nor watched the movie it is my suggestion to watch the movie first. The reason being that this will make the ending of the book far more shocking and appealing than if you read the book first.

Note: Reviews do contain some spoilers.

The Book:

The book started off slow and a bit on the strange side. The initial mention of Frank Dodd and his crimes seemed out of place given the eventual plot line of the book and while I didn’t understand the connection of this information when I first read it after a few days of not giving the book much thought it all made sense.

Initially I found the side stories of Cambers family troubles, Vic and Steve’s struggles to keep their jobs and Donna’s affair with Campbell to be distracting and delay the portion of the story that was the appeal of picking up this book. However like the mention of Frank Dodd it all made sense in the end and you could see how each story in itself was a struggle that could be compared to the others.

Yet even when the story did reach the part where Donna and Tad are trapped in the car with Cujo doing his best to terrorize them at every turn I felt that the book didn’t have as strong as a horror vibe as I was hoping for. It was an interesting story that I had a hard time putting down, but I really didn’t feel the true horror of it. I understand where the horror was, being trapped in a car with little to no food and drink, the heat of the sun beating down not only for a few hours but a few days, with death practically pacing outside, yes that is a scary thing.

The ending, specifically Tad’s death so close to when they were about to be rescued really made everything come to the climax I had been waiting for. I think it was that moment when I really felt like the horror reared it’s ugly head. While not necessarily scary the fact that they struggled and survived all that time and when Donna finally decided to face Cujo head on to save her son it came just a little too late.

The Movie:

The film version of Cujo was in my opinion better than the book. Whether you watch the movie before reading the book or after the fact it just seemed to have a greater horror feel to it than the book did. Also the movie does not include the initial portion of the book that sets up a bit of back story about Cujo, including the somewhat confusing part that mentioned Frank Dodd and the other minor characters that played little to no significance to the actual story line.

While slow to start the movie picked up and became interesting once Donna Trenton and her son Tad arrived at the Cambers place and became trapped in the car because of Cujo. It’s at this point the movie starts to get it’s horror feel and while I wasn’t afraid while watching it I could see how some would perceive this as a horror film. As far as characters go, matching them to the novel, I can’t remember the main characters being described enough for me to envision a solid idea of what they looked like, though I did see Donna as a woman with longer hair not the short hair that she had in the film. Also as far as Campbell is concerned I thought his character would be more Hippie like, long hair, different clothing, where as in the movie he had short hard, a beard and typical clothing.

Overall I enjoyed the movie adaptation however my one big complain was that with the lack of Tad’s death at the end it really didn’t feel like the horror came to it’s final complex. Instead allowing Tad to live gave it a happy ending, which while would appeal to the viewers for the most part felt totally wrong after reading the book.

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