PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2019)
Directors: Kevin Kölsch / Dennis Widmyer
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, Church the Cat
Sometimes dead is better.
Sometimes it is, but I do prefer living to be honest. Can’t have donuts when you’re dead. Stephen King, the master of horror, is still basking in the knowledge that Hollywood and audiences alike are lapping up his work with a newfound sense of lust and next up is Pet Sematary. Of course, this is a remake, Mary Lambert got their first way back in 1989 with a fairly effective horror flick that is now pretty badly dated but looked upon fondly nonetheless.
The story remains pretty much the same, King’s heavy take on loss, grief, and psychological breakdowns is still very much intact. The Creed family – Louis (Clarke), wife Rachel (Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Laurence) and young son Gage (Lavoie) – move to a secluded house in Ludlow, Maine, one that still sits next to a main road used primarily by big trucks. Across the way, their gregarious neighbour Jud Crandall (Lithgow) resides. It’s a quiet town and the woodland that the Creed’s house backs on to is quiet, except for the strange slow procession for small children in animal masks. Oh, and a pet cemetery as well. It’s an odd place. This adaptation remains faithful enough to the novel but throws in a few major twists to spice things up, which was pretty necessary to avoid simply retelling the same story. Now, I steered clear from all trailers as I had heard that the entire movie was spoiled by the footage, so once I had finished watching Pet Sematary, I jumped online, watched the trailers and oh boy! DO NOT watch the trailers before seeing this. I’m not entirely sure what Paramount were thinking with their marketing, but, man, what a shame.
The twist itself is a clever one and actually allows for greater scope of storytelling – whether it tops the original in terms of how harrowing it was is up for debate, but it works, put it like that. Familiar moments from the book and original are still present and they sit nicely alongside the new additions from Kölsch and Widmyer. Everyone leaps into their roles with relish and feel more genuine than before. Jason Clarke is (surprisingly) decent and John Lithgow is dependably excellent. Young Jeté Laurence holds her own in a challenging role and, come on, Church the Cat is an evil little thing. The movie powers along at near-breakneck speed which on one hand is a good thing, but, on the other hand, it means a fair bit of necessary exposition is left out which is quite frustrating as it would have added more depth to the overall theme and mystery of it all. Of course, this is a horror movie, so…is it scary at all? Actually, it has its moments and manages to create a certain sense of impending terror, thanks in part to Laurie Rose’s tight cinematography, and it has its fair share of scares. In comparison, it’s more terrifying than King’s monster hit, 2017’s It.
As King adaptations go, Pet Sematary isn’t the best of the lot, but it’s pretty damn good. The acting is very solid, the scares effective and Christopher Young’s score accompanies both nicely. The thundering pace is a detriment to the movie overall, however, you could do a lot worse if you want a very decent horror flick to watch.
April 5th 2019