Pet Sematary - 2019
Director(s): Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer
Writer(s): Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler (screenplay) / Stephen King (novel)
Cinematography by: Laurie Rose
Editor(s): Sarah Broshar
Cast: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie
Pet Sematary was released thirty years ago, and now thanks to this reboot it has come back to the theaters, and just like the dead animals buried in the sour grounds, this remake did not come back the same. Coming off the heels of one of the most successful years (2017) for King adaptations (It, Gerald's Game and 1922), Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer try to capture the same lighting in a bottle Andy Muschietti caught with his remake, unfortunately for the fans of the source material, they did not catch anything. Let's talk about it.
The story follows a family moving from Boston to a small town of Ludlow, Maine. Louis Creed (Clarke) is a doctor and is trying to be more involved in the life of his children, Ellie and Cage, and spend more time with his wife, Rachel (Seimetz). Their new home is surrounded by the deep woods of Maine and is located right next to the local pet cemetery (they spelled it wrong, Sematary), where all the townsfolk bury their recently deceased pets. Ellie's cat, Church, is run over by a car, Louis is taken to a secret section of the woods by their neighbor Jud (Lithgow). This section of the woods has a mysterious power that brings back the dead and lures people in grief towards its lands. When tragedy strikes the Creed family, Louis resorts to burying his child in the woods, what comes back is not the child he loves forcing him to make a tough decision.
I will show my cards upfront; I did not dislike this film. I think it is perfectly fine but it does feel that they came in with a to-do list and certain events (truck, car accident, dead sister) come across as them checking them off, instead of building on the story. This approach creates an experience devoid of tension until the third act since this is the only act that the film takes on a life of its own shading the to-do-list. There is enough of a difference in this remake to stand out from its original interpretation, but it is still a far cry from a good scary film, and it still has the same logical flaws that pull you out of the experience.
Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer visuals also leave a lot to be desired, as they are way too focused on creating an atmosphere that looks scary, instead of being "scary" by the tension and story they are telling. Nothing can be more annoying to me than a film that is trying to recreate the horror clichés of fog filled woods, unkempt basements, and flickering lights. They did it exceptionally well, and I am sure it will be effective for some, but it is an overused crutch. Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz are good in their roles, even though I wished that their grief was more vocal and gut-wrenching since the result is them facing off against their undead daughter. John Lithgow as Jud had the toughest role since Fred Gwynne in the original is so iconic, but he gave it his own take, and I believe it was different enough to stand apart. He creates a right balance between creepy neighbor and concern old man.
Quick note: the casting agent that found the twins, Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie, to play the baby did an incredible job as they look almost identical to Miko Hughes from the original.
Pet Sematary would've best served as a Netflix film, like Gerald's Game and 1922. It is not a bad film; it is just so average in every sense of the word that you cannot help to wonder, outside of money, why did they even remade it if this was the script they picked. Fans of the book will get something out of it, and fans of King will too, but not enough to warrant a trip to the movies. Matinee at best, but I would wait for it to hit Netflix.
Pet Sematary is a Streamer!
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