Some time ago while I lay on the couch, a wave of thought came over me – What is the nature of death? Our own existence is what we’ve known since birth and contemplating the end of existence feels like a foreign invader. The idea that all of this will cease struck me, it struck me to the core. I felt hollow inside and numb. I lay there for almost an hour, still, staring up at the popcorn ceiling. Boy, was that a horrible feeling. There’s nothing productive about those kinds of thoughts and I haven’t delved back in since, but I did come to one truth: Death is scary and it’s assured.
Pet Sematary deals with this very topic. The main character, Louis Creed, faces it at every turn throughout the novel. A general physician working at the University, Creed believes death is the natural order of things. However, when his neighbor, Jud, takes Louis and his family out to the pet cemetery behind their house, his journey with death begins. It feels only natural that a story about cemeteries would deal quite heavily with the topic of death, and King provides. Death is the central figure in the entire story if not the main antagonist.
I often tell people monster movies don’t scare me. It’s the real stuff that freaks me out. For instance, I think the scariest horror film is A Beautiful Mind. And I don’t say that in jest. The idea of seeing people that aren’t there is a real fear of mine and the fact that it’s a real condition makes it all the more terrifying.
That’s not to say ghost stories and the like don’t get my heart racing or aren’t a little freaky, but for some reason, it’s the real stuff that gets me the most.
Too often Hollywood gets itself into a rut. The moment one studio finds a winning formula, genre, or theme, the others are soon to follow and they all copy each other so much it becomes cliche and boring. It’s only natural. If you see success in front of you, why not do the same thing and recreate it? The other issue is listening to focus groups or conventional wisdom as a compass for all your stories. It’s easy to pay strict adherence to story conventions and practices as if breaking them is forbidden and a one way trip to failure-town. One of these rules is: Don’t kill off your main characters.