Pet Sematary was a book by Stephen King I read when I was 14 and when I saw the 1989 version I noticed how similar they were. Only excess details and Jud’s wife were really the only things missing from the film. Of course the 1989 film was written by the author himself, so its bound to be close to the original work. That is a pretty tall order for a remake.
The new film stars Jason Clarke, (Well known in many movies) Amy Seimetz, (Also from many movies) and John Lithgow. (Many awards) Lithgow is the new Jud, following the footsteps of the late Fred Gwynne. (Herman Munster) It follows the premise of a family that moved into a house with a Pet Sematary located in the woods by their new home. However, even farther back is an old Native American burial ground haunted by a Wendigo who possess dead bodies that are buried there, indicating that it brings the dead back to life.
The problem with remakes that takes on a film that is either a classic, or a cult classic is that it really is hard to review it without mentioning the old one. Since I do not want to spoil the movie so soon in its release I will try my best to treat this like a brand new movie.
The story follows the premise well, but with major changes to the plot that at times it becomes very loose from the original book. To die hard Stephen King fans this can come as a breathe of fresh air or an insult. However, a film made in the 80’s does carry some of the leftover trends of the that era which can come off as dated to modern day standards, and with that gives Hollywood a good excuse to remake anything. The real reason is probably the success of IT (2017) which has created a push to look back at Stephen King’s works and see a golden ticket. BACK TO THE FILM The tragic nature of the story continues much like the original work that it is familiar, but they take a last minute turn and gives you a fresh new take on the film entirely. Such case as in the original versions we see the baby brother, Gage get run over by a truck when he runs out into the road, in this new version it is the older sitter Ellie who dies instead. (THIS IS NOT A SPOILER! IT IS IN THE TRAILER!) The director does it in such a great way that you feel like you are going to see the classic version only to be shocked by a new twist in the narrative. Soon, we see the father struggling with the death of his daughter and even with a warning from Jud, he still sees an opportunity to bring his daughter back, but like Jud said, “Sometimes dead is better.”
The directing style is simple with a few clever tricks that I previously stated, the acting is great even for the children, (89 Jud was better) and the scare factor is so-so. If you are easily scared then this movie does the trick, but if you are used to jump scares or you are a horror expert then you won’t feel as frightened. The music did add to the horror atmosphere, and I have to say I loved the fact that they did a cover of Pet Sematary by The Ramones during the credits. The gore factor was good at times but could have been a little more gruesome to keep deaths a little more interesting. The ending was a fun change from the original.
I think my biggest issue with the film was on the pacing. I feel the movie could of done with an extra 20 minutes or so to elaborate on the characters dealing with grief, more back story on the Pet Sematary, or even some explanation for why the kids wear masks. I could understand that the leads were dealing with grief but I feel more could have been said and accomplished to the audience watching. I could see they were in pain, but it was presented to us obviously with no details added. I feel an extra character like Jud’s wife could have been what the movie needed. If we saw her die naturally and buried it could have been the right start to jump into dealing with the topic of death. (This happens in the book) It would have built the story better and would have made one horror snip a little more horrifying. (You will know what I mean when you see the movie)
I can say I liked this movie with a 3/5 star rating. I suggest it to any single person who enjoys a simple horror movie, but die hard Stephen King enthusiasts may be disappointed.