‘Pet Sematary’ (2019)
Di Bonaventura Pictures
Directed by: Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Wydmyer
Written by: Stephen King (novel), Matt Greenberg & Jeff Buhler (screenplay)
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jete Laurence, Hugo & Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed & John Lithgow.
Remakes are a staple of Hollywood. What we hope for is that the remake brings something new or gives us a fresh take on a classic film. While we certainly get some changes in this latest version of Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary‘, it’s hard to say that they are better than the original film from 1989 (yeah… it’s been that long ago). In the film, Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moves his family to rural Maine in order to slow down and spend more time with his two children, 8yr old Ellie and 2yr old Gage. When the family cat ends up being found dead on the side of the road, long time Ludlow resident Jud (John Lithgow) suggests that Louis bury the cat in a secret, ancient burial ground on the family’s new property so that Ellie won’t have to be heartbroken about the loss of her pet. And while Church the cat does indeed come back, it’s not the same at all. Louis is perplexed by the cat’s return but when Ellie is accidentally killed by a truck after being lured to the road by Church, Louis is grief-stricken and exhumes his daughter’s body in order to also bring her back. This, of course, all ties into the movie’s tag line that “Sometimes dead is better.”
The acting is very good and there are plenty of jump scares, but I didn’t find myself ever feeling truly terrified. Overall, the film does a great job of building tension and keeping a solid feeling of pure dread throughout its 1hr and 41 minute run time and the acting from Jason Clarke & Amy Seimetz as the bereaved parents is both wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time. While I’m normally a huge fan of John Lithgow, his portrayal of lifelong Ludlow resident Jud didn’t feel quite as perfect as Fred Gwynne‘s did in the original. Jete Laurence was quite convincingly disturbing as recently returned-from-the-dead Ellie and the switch up of having the older child die as opposed to little 2yr old Gage as shown in the original movie made for some interesting dynamics in the film.
At the end of the day, it is a remake and it’s not quite as horrifying as King’s actual novels (scant few of the movies have been) but it definitely delivers a strong sense of foreboding from the moment the credits begin to roll to the eerie image at the end. Based on all of these elements, I would rate the newest ‘Pet Sematary’ a 6.5 out of 10. Tickets are available online.