In 1997, BBC Radio 4 aired an audio dramatization of Stephen King’s classic novel Pet Sematary. It originally aired as six thirty minute segments, but can be found now in three one hour episodes freely online, on Audible, or on CD.
Late one night in September 2018, I was driving home from my mother’s rural home when I realized that I had no cell signal. I was forced to fall back to listening to the mp3s on my cell phone when I noticed Pet Sematary was on my phone. I installed it months ago, with an intention of reviewing it, but I had not gotten around to it. I decided to begin the first episode as I drove through the secluded backwoods home and for the first time in years, I felt that uneasy feeling that I was truly alone and in the dark. It’s amazing what losing cell signal can do to your nerves when its nearing midnight and you are watching/listening to something creepy.
I watched Pet Sematary about two years ago, but I haven’t read the book since I was a kid. With this in mind, I’m going to review this audio drama solely on the story it tells and without comparing it to the other formats. I don’t feel I’m fresh enough on either the book nor the movie to give an honest comparison.
Pet Sematary tells the story of The Creeds, a young family who move to Maine so that the husband (Louis) can accept a position as the head doctor at the local college. The family immediately finds itself at home in Maine, with wonderful neighbors and a respectable position with the community.
Down just a few miles from The Creeds home is a pet cemetary, where people have buried their pets for over a hundred years. It’s an eerie place, that’s even more eerie once you cross the deadfall and discover another open field of land. The Creeds elderly neighbor Jud suggests that they never cross the deadfall, because it’s unsafe.
The Creed’s new home seems perfect, with exception of the busy road that it sits upon. The road is full of trucks going way too fast, and this is why a pet cemetary can be found so close- animals are being run over all the time. The Creed’s cat Church becomes the latest victim to the dangerous road. Knowing that this will crush their young daughter Ellie, Jud takes Louis up to the deadfall and has him bury the cat. Its then that Jud reveals that the area past the deadfall has magical powers that can bring things back from the dead. What comes back isn’t the same as what dies, but it will be alive.
I won’t spoil things any further, but Pet Sematary is a classic story for a reason: it’s legit scary. The idea of losing a love one and wanting to do anything in your power to bring them back is something I think we can all relate to. Pet Sematary preaches to us that there are things worse than death, and that’s something hard for us to accept. So, Pet Sematary uses horror to show us.
The audio drama is well acted and produced. I felt like all of the voice actors did a wonderful job in their respective roles and the sound effects were top notch. The score was great, although it was overused quite a bit. I wish the composer would have assembled two different pieces of music to really break things up.
The three hour runtime was about perfect for the story, although I felt like the pacing was a little off. The ending came hard and fast, and I don’t feel like it fully developed. However, the final scene was haunting and is something that will stick with me for a while.
I really enjoyed how the drama explained and showed how the evil that lurked within the Pet Sematary manipulated people and things to get what it wanted. It felt so sinister and so out of control.
I honestly don’t have any real complaints with Pet Sematary. I won’t go as far to say it was brilliant, but it was a damn good story and it was well told. If I was to really pry and had to find something to complain about it I’d probably say John Sharian’s (Louis Creed) crying/desperate squeals were a bit too high pitched for my liking and were almost annoying. Luckily, they were few and far between.
I felt like Pet Sematary was great way to spend three hours of my driving, especially at night. I look forward to checking out some more of the BBC’s Stephen King adaptations in the near future.
I’d rate Pet Semetary as a four out of five and say it’s definitely worth a listen.
Director: Gordon House
Louis Creed: John Sharian
Rachel Creed: Briony Glassco
Jud Crandall: Lee Montague
Ellie Creed: Sarah Benichou
Music composed by David Chilton and Nicholas Russell-Pavier
Directed by Gordon House
Dramatized By: Gregory Evans.