We take for granted how much we learn from our families. Through family, we learn about life, love, strength, absence, guilt, and death. Sociologists frequently categorize the family as a primary socialization group which builds the foundation for future navigation of the world around us. It is widely accepted that within our formative years, from birth to school age, as well as in our later life, we learn from observing this primary social group.[i] Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory suggests that we learn consequence and reward by seeing the results of actions manifest in the lives of those around us. Considering the family as a core teaching mechanism of behavior and cognition helps me understand the film Pet Sematary (1989) in a new way.
In this Short Cut, I want to briefly examine death with a special emphasis on one video clip in Stephen King’s timeless film, Pet Sematary. (WARNING: there are spoilers) The Creed family consists of Louis (Midkiff), Rachel (Crosby), Gage (Hughes), Ellie (Berdahl twins), and Church (played by 7 blue British shorthairs). The first death in the family is that of Churchill the cat. Louis tries to shelter his daughter, Ellie, from the loss by resurrecting him via the pet sematary. One after another, Louis holds on to rotting replicas of the family to dangerous ends, as Gage and Rachel are buried in the same sour ground as Church. Louis Creed’s inability to let go puts the family in escalating danger.