Pet Sematary – Film Review

Based on the popular 1983 Stephen King novel ‘Pet Sematary’ and 1989 movie of the same name, in 2019 get a new modern adaptation of the classic horror story.

The film follows a family moving from the big city to a smaller country town where leading actor Jason Clarke plays the husband and father of two, Louis. Settling into their new home, they meet their local neighbour Jud played by John Lithgow, who becomes a regular guest in the family’s lives. Jud shares the story of the local Pet Sematary located on the grounds of the family’s home, where kids end up burying their beloved pets who have passed away.

One afternoon before Louis takes his daughter Ellie out for the day, Jud pulls Louis aside and shows him the stiff dead body of the family cat, Church. Later in the night, Jud shows Louis the location of an Indian burial ground located behind the Pet Sematary and instructs Louis to dig and bury the cat. Night passes, and Louis wakes up to a surprise to see Church alive in his daughter’s room. Not fully understanding what has happened, he plays along like everything is normal ‘til he discovers the cat is not the same and has come back meaner and nastier.

With the original 1989 film having the son, Gage die, the new version changes the story up with having the daughter, Ellie die instead. Shattered and heartbroken over the loss of his daughter, Louis buries his daughter at the same burial grounds he once buried Church. But just like the cat, Ellie comes back with a darker side.

I had re-watched the original film before seeing this remake, and I hate to say it, but I was let down by this new version. I felt as though there was some changes that weren’t needed such as the subplot of Louis’ wife Rachel played by Amy Seimetz and her story of her upbringing with an unwell sister that tortured her memories. I can see where directors wanted to go by adding more fright to the film, but it just seemed pointless and not at all connected to the Pet Sematary main storyline. However, there were some positive changes. I felt that the daughter was a better choice to die in this film as the son seemed too young to talk and to give much of a character to fear.

Usually I do find most child actors who play evil roles come off as annoying, but Jeté Laurence did a great job as the dead daughter. She was able to deliver a spine-chilling fear that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

If you’re an avid horror movie lover, then you may not get that scared when viewing the 2019 version of Pet Sematary. I found that there were very few suspenseful moments that made me jump. I am a massive fan of the 1989 film and even though the original is 30 years old, I still preferred it in comparison to the 2019 flick. Despite my preferences, I would still recommend a viewing of this remake. It may not be better than the 1989 classic, but it was quite enjoyable to watch.

Pet Sematary is out in cinemas across Australia now.

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