Louis Creed, his wife Rachel and their two children Gage and Ellie move to a rural home where they are welcomed and enlightened about the eerie ‘Pet Sematary’ located near their home. After the tragedy of their cat being killed by a truck, Louis resorts to burying it in the mysterious pet cemetery, which is definitely not as it seems, as it proves to the Creeds that sometimes, dead is better.
Whether you’re the type of person who loves remakes or simply the type who loves to hate them, it’s highly likely that 2019’s Pet Sematary is on your radar for one reason or another if you’re into horror. It’s directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (who also directed Starry Eyes) and is, of course, a reboot of the classic Stephen King film Pet Sematary from 1983. Pet Sematary stars Jason Clarke (Winchester, Trust), Amy Seimatz (The Sacrament, You’re Next, Bitter Feast), and the always legendary John Lithgow (Raising Cane, Twilight Zone: The Movie).
Those who aren’t acquainted with either the novel or the 1989 Mary Lambert film adaptation are definitely in for a treat as far as the plotline goes. Pet Sematary is the twisted tale of a mysterious ancient graveyard for pets with the unexplained ability to resurrect those buried there. When the unwitting Creed family moves to the area and experiences the power of the graveyard firsthand, terror ensues. “Sometimes dead is better” is the moral of the story, and this classic tale does an excellent job of explaining why.
But is this glossy reboot of Pet Sematary really worth your time, or are you better off simply taking a walk down memory lane and re-watching the first adaptation? If you’re like many horror fans, the resounding success of 2017’s It remake gave you tentatively high hopes for Pet Sematary, and the film does deliver in many ways. Its take on the horrifyingly creepy cat, Church is really well done and definitely makes for some decently good scares. There are also some truly creepy vision sequences, and cinematographer Laurie Rose does an amazing job of setting up some really impactful shots.
John Lithgow is predictably wonderful as the kindly Jud Crandall. Jason Clarke also turns in an incredible performance as the conflicted Dr. Louis Creed. In fact, the entire cast does an amazing job of making the world of Pet Sematary feel and seem not only real, but appropriately terrifying. The atmosphere set by the film, cast, and crew is appropriately forbidding on every level and does justice to the original mood of the King novel. And if mood isn’t really what makes the hairs on your arms stand up when you watch a horror film, rest easy in the knowledge that there are plenty of really effective jump scares thrown in for good measure as well.
To be fair, some things about the film don’t quite work or else simply seem unnecessary. There are certain liberties taken with the plot that take away from the build-up of the mood, as well as the descent into madness experienced by Dr. Creed over the course of the movie. There’s also a lot of effort made to include many of the legendary scene’s fans of the book and first adaptation will no doubt be watching for – perhaps too much effort, as this sometimes feels forced and prevents this newest incarnation of Pet Sematary from truly feeling like its own film.
All in all, this is a really good effort and definitely worth seeing. You’ll like it if you enjoyed the King book, the 1989 adaptation, or both, even if you won’t necessarily be blown away. If you’re unfamiliar with this story in any form, this is well worth seeing if for no other reason than to experience one hell of a creepy tale that’s honestly too good to miss out on. Ultimately, this version of Pet Sematary doesn’t really bring anything new or especially exceptional to the table. It will likely ultimately be forgotten as the years roll on. However, you won’t be sorry you saw it if the idea of it appeals to you at all. It’s definitely worth a watch some Saturday night over popcorn.