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“Pet Sematary” is an uneven bag of Stephen King eccentricities

“Pet Sematary” is an uneven bag of Stephen King eccentricities

“Pet Sematary” is an uneven bag of Stephen King eccentricities
April 17
16:45 2019

“Sometimes dead is better.”

For decades, Stephen King has kept his throne as the reigning king of horror, and for good reason. His stories have lived on for decades after their publishing dates in reprints and in numerous film and television adaptations. Recently, there seems to be another Stephen King renaissance among us with the 2017 adaptations of “It”, “Gerald’s Game”, “1922” and now a new adaptation of one of his most frightening novels ever, ‘Pet Sematary”, thirty years after its first feature film adaptation.

The film follows Louis Creed and his family as they relocate to rural Maine. They soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their home. After tragedy strikes, they soon discover the “Pet Sematary” is nothing as it seems.

The original “Pet Sematary” film has lived on mostly due to some intense nostalgia and some truly frightening scenes consisting of a certain character plagued by a horrific illness. After revisiting it, I have found out that the film has not aged very well. Thanks to my adoration of the novel, I was able to excuse some of its misgivings because it follows its source material pretty well, even if the overall film lacks something really impactful. I first saw the film when I was only 12 years old, so I think I can be forgiven a little for hailing it as a classic back then. After revisiting it before the new one, I can finally realize a lot of its flaws. It looks dated and besides those specific scenes, it is lacking in some truly genuine scares. I usually am pretty put off by remakes – especially horror ones- but “Pet Sematary” almost seemed to beg for one. A more modern adaptation could really do its source material justice by delivering a film that could rival the creep factor of the novel.

Unfortunately, the new remake of “Pet Sematary” still feels pretty lacking. I had some high hopes for the film but I can say I was disappointed with it. It is most definitely not an awful movie, it just reeks of failed potential. Directing duo Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch seemed to be a very promising duo to direct this film after their fantastic 2014 film, “Starry Eyes”, which has some nice little similarities in tone and certain plot devices to “Pet Sematary”. They have a good grasp on a distinctive visual style but this grasp is lost when they are trying to fully fledge out this story. Thankfully, they incorporate some necessary plot points from the beginning of novel in this film which was absent in the original. But then they turn around and ignore some even more important points found later in the novel and completely leave them out when it almost seemed to beg to be included in the way they unfolded the story. It was frustrating and almost seemed like a betrayal to the audience, especially avid fans of King’s novel.

Another major issue I had with the film actually lies in the marketing of it. The second trailer completely spoils the new twist found within this adaptation. If it was left as a surprise, the reveal could have possibly worked more because it had the power to subvert the audience’s expectations, especially ones familiar with the original film and novel. But instead, its big twist is spoiled by a two-minute trailer and all elements of surprise have now left the theater. It is a big missed opportunity because there was a chance to surprise, but it was betrayed in its own marketing. This is not necessary the fault of the actual movie or its directors, but I cannot lie how much of a disappointment it is.

The film oozes atmosphere, though. Each scene in the “Semetary” is defined by the dark sky, the ominous fog creeping on the ground and the overall sense of dread lingering in these scenes. Thankfully, the dread carries over into the second half of the film. The first is heavy on exposition and slow, plodding moments, but the second amps up the scares, tension and dread to finally deliver a creepy enough film worthy of the Stephen King legacy. No spoilers here, but the ending in this film is changed from the novel and the original film and dare I say, it kind of worked? It leaves the viewer with a very creepy afterthought – just enough to have you thinking about it after the credits have rolled – leaving you with a nice array of goosebumps.

“Pet Sematary” is an uneven bag of Stephen King eccentricities. The second half has enough of the traditional Stephen King “feeling” you get after reading one of his novels, but its unfortunately not enough to compensate for its tedious first half or lack of other surprises.

GRADE: 3/5

Featured Image: KQED

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Spencer Kain

Spencer Kain

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