Published On: Fri, Apr 5th, 2019

‘Pet Sematary’ Review: The ‘jumps’ and Jason Clarke can’t save this creepy remake of Stephen King’s masterpiece

One of Stephen King’s greatest novels gets a 2019 update with a new film, Pet Sematary, starring Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz. Directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, the new film relies on the “jump factor” and an overall creepy tenor, which culminates with a disturbing conclusion, but leaves audiences wanting so much more.

Unlike the book or the 1989 film, this Pet Sematary starts with the Creed family migrating from Boston to Ludlow, Maine (instead of Chicago in the aforementioned source material) as the patriarch, Louis (Clarke) wants to spend more time with his family. While the family is struggling to settle in to their new home, a shocking death at the clinic rocks Louis to the core. His wife Rachel (Seimetz) deals with the gruesome death of her sister, Zelda, years prior, blaming herself a role in that tragedy.

Their daughter Ellie (Jete Laurence) discovers an eerie pet cemetery on their property as their neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) begins his journey as the wise giver of the Wendigo legend and “the sour ground” where they live. After the family cat, Church, is killed on the super busy highway, Jud assists Louis in burying the cat and well…you know the story, “they don’t come back the same,” Jud warns, foreshadowing the creature’s rise from death.

“Once you feel the power of that place, you make up the sweetest-smelling reasons to go back,” Jud tells Louis, tapping into the audience’s emotional connection to battle to overcome grief, as the tragedies continue for the family.

In the earlier film, it was the toddler son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), who wanders into the adjacent busy highway, who gets struck down by speeding tractor trailer, but the new film enjoys a few variations and most of these changes work well — this is one of them as Ellie gets killed.

The role of Pascow, a harbinger warning of the cemetery’s negative effects, is key to the different tone in this film:it is more creepy and weird, but not really scary. Zelda, who suffers from spinal meningitis, haunts Rachel and provides the other key element to this spooky aura set forth by Kolsch and Widmyer.

Pet Sematary would be a better film if it was a new tale in the same universe as the book and 1989 film and I wish that had been the approach all along. New characters and names would have made all of this more disturbing, a continuation of the curse if you will, instead of a retelling. The new film works is some ways…it’s entertaining, but it’s also deeply flawed.

There are humorous moments, but they don’t always seem intentional. The sinister ending keeps the door cracked for Paramount to develop another film, which would be more enticing if this was “universe building” instead of a “remake.”

Clarke adds another great performance to his resume (Zero Dark Thirty, Chappaquiddick, First Man), but Lithgow is wasted in a relatively small role with only one great scene. The shots of Rachel’s hallucinations and Ellie’s “zombie bath” keep the audience unbalanced and setup that bizarre and ghoulish ending.

Pet Sematary earns a solid 2 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Add a star if you are content with a creepy film and NOT a horror film, because that’s what Kolsch and Widmyer. Dead children and a kid murdering adults warrants and R-rating, but this is a very “soft” rating as the film stops short of ever shocking us. There are a ton of homages paid to original film, including the Ramones’ cheesy 1989 title track and a brief reference to that dangerous King creation Cujo (listen carefully).

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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