Posted: March 31, 2001
When I got my review copy of Pet Sematary I also got a copy of the dramatization of Secret Window, Secret Garden (you can read my review of it here). After listening to Secret Window, Secret Garden I was totally sold on dramatized versions of King's work. I loved that one.
It was with that mode I sat down to listen to Pet Sematary. Unfortunately I was deeply disappointed with it. Was I disappointed because I expected something like Secret Window, Secret Garden? Probably! A lot of my disappointment has to do with the cast, even if not all of it was their fault.
I think that Pet Sematary is a far too rich a book to turn into a 3-hour dramatized version. It has too much plot and story for that and you are bound to lose some of it. I also feel that it's a really graphical book, too graphical to work as a dramatization. It's a book where the reader needs to make up the images himself. The BBC should have realized this before picking this story. Again, it's not the cast's fault.
I also want to say that I do like the story of Pet Sematary a lot but here it's too compact and too short. It's being told too fast. I guess it would be hard to make this one fly as a dramatization (even if it would have been twice as long) and I'm sure the director (Gordon House) did his best but it's just not enough. This book wasn't meant for it, it's as simple as that!
What about the cast then? Well, I don't really know how to say it in a nice way but most of them really suck big time when they have to show some kind of emotion! The worst ones are John Sharian (Louis Creed) and Sarah Benichou (Ellie Creed). When Louis is supposed to sound frightened and/or upset he sounds like a tortured pig. He is hissing out the words in a way that is painfully embarrassing to hear.
When it comes to Ellie it's her credibility. In some scenes she sounds like she is 3 years old and in some she sounds like 19, very confusing. It makes it hard to feel for the character, you can't help laughing at her sometimes.
The others actors and actresses are somewhat better though. Briony Glassco (Rachel Creed), Mark Bonnar (Victor Pascow) and the others manage to do their parts but not much more. The only one I really like is Lee Montague (Jud Crandall) who is the best in this group. 1 out of over 10 is far from good enough though.
In the UK this dramatization aired in six parts and I'm not sure if that worked to its benefit or not, but I guess it couldn't make it worse.