Everything Wrong With The Pet Sematary
Are you going to see the Horror Flick.
Stephen King’s hair-raising 1983 novel, a fan favorite that never achieved the above-the-board status of, say, The Shining or Carrie. (Even the author himself thought the book was way too dark.) But for serious King enthusiasts, Pet Sematary on the page was a death-obsessed hell ride for the ages, with chills only fitfully captured in Mary Lambert’s 1989 film version (with a screenplay by the Master of Horror-Lit himself).
Things improve substantially in Pet Sematary 2019, a blood-curdling chiller that adds new twists to King’s novel yet stays incredibly faithful to its dark spirit. Smartphones and other products of the digital age have been added, but the plot trots along the same surface: Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), a Boston doctor tired of living in the big city.
moves his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two kids, eight-year-old Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and toddler Gage (played by twins Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), to rural Maine.
Pet Sematary is one of the genuine scare films. Everyone seems to like their rustic new house, even Church the cat. The catch is that the house butts up against a superhighway with speeding trucks that can squash critters in seconds. Poor Church.
Pet Sematry is all kind wrong.
Pet Sematary is horror novel, and here enter the neighborly Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), an old coot who befriends the Creeds — he’s especially partial to Ellie — and tells them about the old Native-American graveyard out back where kids bury their road kill.
A sign nailed to a tree reads, “Pet Sematary,” speaking to spelling deficiencies among the young locals. The immortal Fred Gwynne played the character in the 1989 film, with an outrageously thick Maine accent.
The reliably superb Lithgow puts his own stamp of empathetic and eerie on the veteran New Englander. It’s Jud who tells the Creeds about the burial ground’s powers of reanimation and the rituals needed to pull off the miracle. Unfortunately, resurrection puts Church in a terrible mood.