“Pet Sematary” stars Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Laurence, Obssa Ahmed, and John Lithgow. Released on April 5, 2019, the film is about a family who encounters a pet cemetery that rests on an ancient burial ground.
The film is directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, and it is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Stephen King. There are plenty of things that you should never do. Throw toilet paper at someone’s house, drink a bunch of beer, shoot an innocent person, bring someone back from the dead. You know, stuff that usually gets you into trouble. If you think I’m kidding with that last part, just wait until you see what I’m talking about today. This is another source material from horror author Stephen King that I wasn’t familiar with because I don’t read that many books during my life. However, I was willing to check it out for myself since I really liked the 2017 adaptation of “It”, which was also written by King, and the fact that the trailers creeped me out a little bit. This also marks the second film adaptation of King’s 1983 novel, with the first being the 1989 film. Since I didn’t have the time to watch that version of “Pet Sematary”, I will be looking at this latest version as its own film as a regular reviewer.
For those who are unfamiliar with the novel, the story in “Pet Sematary” follows a family who moves into a new house and discovers a mysterious cemetery that can actually bring things back from the dead. When a member of that family dies in a tragic accident, the husband (played by Jason Clarke in this adaptation) used the cemetery to try to revive that member, not knowing the consequences that are soon to follow. It may have sound like something that is ripped straight out of a zombie film, but trust me, this film is far from it. The story deals with the concept of dealing with death. It’s really hard to accept the fact that someone you loved has passed on, whether it’s your spouse, your child, or your parents, and you’ll do anything to bring them back, including trying to bring them back to life. This film used the supernatural tropes to represent the consequence of attempting to mess with the circle of life. The final result is a creep-fest that is atmospheric and grounded, but lacks a certain finesse that makes its central theme meaningful as well as horrifying. The way they portray this theme in a horror film was well-intentional and honest, but then the third act happened and it’s all downhill from there. What I mean is that to me, the third act was a bit disappointing compared to the first two acts in terms of the scares and the ending. Other than that, it was a nicely-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel. The performances from the cast were nothing but decent throughout the entire film, with Jason Clarke and John Lithgow being the main highlights as Louis Creed and Jud Crandall, respectively. Jeté Laurence also did a respectable job as Ellie, Louis’ daughter. Even though I found the narrative to be a mixed bag, I have to give the directors credit for maintaining the style they were going for. Bleak, dark, and haunting. These three things are what made the film’s atmosphere work for me. It’s too bad that the entire film didn’t leave a lasting impression for me compared to my experience with “Us”.
Overall, “Pet Sematary” has the right sense of dread and creepiness, but its lack of consistency towards the end signifies that it’s better off buried in the ground. While the cast and the directors did their part in making the film more tolerable for me, they weren’t able to save the film from death itself due to its inability to provide memorable scares and effective storytelling. It’s possible that I might get a lot of negative responses from plenty of Stephen King fans because of my review, but as I mentioned before, this is just me looking at it as a regular film reviewer and not as a major King fan. If you like this one more than I did, I won’t judge. If not, then I still won’t judge.