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Pet Sematary (2019)

Stephen King publishes a book on average every year, the amount of content and IP that the American author produces is enough for filmmakers to roll around in for decades to come. Many of his novels have already been adapted into great films (The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, etc.), but there have also been misses in the Stephen-King-craze that enraptured much of the 80s and 90s. Thus it is inevitable that in the era of remakes that we now live in, previous King-films would be revisited. Such is the case now with Pet Sematary.

Pet Sematary is a fresh new take on King’s 1983 novel, and remake of the 1989 film. We follow a doctor named Louis (Jason Clarke), who moves with his wife (Amy Seimetz) and his two kids to rural Maine from Boston. They soon find out that their new property has a pet cemetery that children use to bury their pets; the misspelling of the location on the hand-made signs gives the film its title. When the family cat, Church, is run-over, friendly neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) helps bury it – only to have it come back the next day.

Stephen King’s stories have always been known for fully exploring the possibilities his concepts can sprout (thus explaining the page-count of many of his novels). However, film adaptations are forced to cut out many things in order to have a feasible runtime. If done incorrectly, this can leave the audience with great dissatisfaction and disinterest. Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer were able to give a sense of a slow build-up throughout the movie, with jump-scares sprinkled here and there to keep viewers on their toes. However, before the film gets to any big reveal or satisfying climax, it ends. There could have been an element of mystique left, as the credits rolled, but the number of loose ends left prevents viewers from leaving with that sensation. The result is that an air of laziness from the filmmakers, not attempting to explore aspects of the afterlife and the supernatural, settles in instead. The film simply feels like a cheap excuse for jump-scares and for many film-viewers (as the studio knows) that will be enough.

The cast didn’t help matters either; with the child actors leaving much to be desired while Amy Seimetz is constricted to portraying one emotion throughout the film (resting scared face). Only the two better-known actors, Clarke and Lithgow, brought a sense of seriousness and depth that lured viewers into the world of the film, although the sluggish dialogue didn’t prevent them from leaving too much of an imprint.

The magnetism of Stephen King’s story is still powerful enough to sear life into Pet Sematary, mostly due to the originality of the concept and the barebones of the story (despite many divergences from the novel). However, the weak execution of the story along with an incongruous cast drags the film down into the “rabble” of horror films.



About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website in a film-buff phase in high school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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