Pet Sematary (2019)
pet sematary | kevin kolsch | dennis widmyer | matt greenberg | jeff buhler | jason clarke | amy seimetz | john lithgow | remake | based on | stephen king | novel | zombie | zombies | thriller | united states | jete laurence | hugo lavoie | lucas lavoie | animal attack
Film: Pet Sematary
Director: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer
Writer: Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler
Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow
I feel like I should lead off stating that I’m a big fan of Stephen King and his works. This film intrigued me as I knew for awhile this film was in development. I saw the trailer for this film quite a few times and I was somewhat upset with the company that cuts it together for revealing something different from the original, which is part of the reason I gave up watching trailers. I was pretty high on this after my first viewing so curious to see where I am after this second one. The synopsis for Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) and his wife, Rachel (Amy Seimetz), relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the new home.
The film kicks us off with an overhead view of the new house and land, showing us the aftermath of something. We then are in the car on the way there. Louis, his wife Rachel, their daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence), son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) and cat Church. They go through the city of Ludlow, Maine.
Louis goes to work and Rachel stays at home with the children. They hear something outside. Rachel and Ellie see a funeral procession passing by. The noise is the last girl is playing a drum and they are wearing odd animal masks. The two go back inside, but Ellie sneaks out and finds a pet cemetery, but the sign is misspelled. She is drawn toward a barrier, but she falls and is spooked by an old man. He turns out to be Jud (John Lithgow). Rachel finds them and she is upset with her daughter and leery of the man.
Later that night, Louis, Rachel and Ellie talk about what she found. It is then that we learn that Rachel has an issues talking about death. We learn that it has to do with her sister, Zelda (Alyssa Brooke Levine), and a traumatic events with helping her and of her passing away. She thinks that there is an afterlife where Louis doesn’t.
He is shook up when at work a student, Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed), is hit by a car. He dies while he is trying to save him, but is spooked even more when Pascow sits up and gives him a warning. Things get even worse when Judd shows Louis that Church has been hit by a truck. They go up to bury it that night in the pet cemetery, but Judd takes him over the barrier to where the ground has soured according to Pascow.
Ellie is told that Church ran away, but she informs them that he came home last night. There isn’t something quite right about the cat though. When Louis inquires about what they did, Jud tells him the story of the swamp and the evil entity that according to legend resides there, the Wendigo. Its presence brings even more heartache to the family as it makes events happen that will tear them apart.
I heard that this film was one of the darkest adaptations of a King work. It is interesting as I know I read the novel back in high school, not a lot of it stuck with me. Something I will lead of stating in this, I love that they actually bring up the Native American entity, the Wendigo, that caused the land to sour and for the power to bring things back from the dead is explained. That was an aspect I did remember.
I do have to agree this is darker than the original as well. If you’ve read other films where I’ve seen the original and then the remake, I don’t like to compare too much, as I like to look at both of them on an individual basis. With that out of the way, I like the writing for this version a lot. They toned down the Zelda aspect in this one where isn’t as creepy and I will admit I didn’t like that. What they did do though is flesh out Rachel way more to see the effects that her death caused on her. We do get that in the original, but it feels more real in this one.
We have an interesting look at death in this film. The first thing is that the parents are torn on their beliefs and what to do with telling Ellie. Louis seems like an atheist that there’s nothing after we die, where Rachel believes in the afterlife. She refuses to talk about death, because of the trauma of what happened to her sister. I find this interesting as I side with Louis here. There is an interesting shift though that happens after the events and with what Louis does. It is also interesting in some of the dark things that are said by Ellie later in the movie.
I won’t spoil this film at all, but if you saw the trailer or I heard the poster even gives it away, this film has a twist on the event that happens. Seeing it play out was quite tense and now that I’ve seen it, I’m on-board for the change. How things in the end up going, makes it interesting for sure. I will even shift to talking about the pacing and editing, which I think are both good. For a film that is flirting with two hours, it doesn’t feel like it. It really moves along at a good pace. The ending wasn’t something I was expecting the first time around. Some podcasts pointed out that they didn’t like it, which I won’t go that far. There’s something that isn’t plausible for a character like Ellie to do, even if she has unnatural strength in her condition. They probably should have kept in line with the original and had Louis do it. There’s also the issue that the first warning comes before Louis knows about the Pet Cemetery. I think they should have pushed that out until after Louis has heard of it to make more sense.
What I think actually makes this film stronger and the feelings of dread are actually from the acting. Clarke is one of my favorite actors and I also feel like his underrated. Nothing against the guy who played in the original, but he isn’t as strong. It makes what happens at the point of no return that much more real, because even though I knew what was going to happen, it gave me dread. Seimetz I think was also much better as Rachel. I think part of that is how much more Zelda is incorporated in, so you feel worse for her and the trauma she is still dealing with. Lithgow plays Jud a little less nice and I think it works better. He is another amazing actor, but he doesn’t deliver the iconic line as well. I do like that he made the role his own and took it different for sure. Laurence was definitely less annoying than the actress in the original film. She was quite amazing for a child. I was impressed by her, especially for the dark things said in the second half of the film. The boys that played Gage, Lavoies were quite cute and did well. By changing the roles, there isn’t a whole lot from them and I’m fine with it. I thought that Ahmed was fine in his role, but the problem is that I do think it is out of order so it almost makes him to blame as much as Jud if you think about it. The rest of the cast rounded out the film very well.
Effects for the film were well done. A majority of them were done practically, which if you know me I’m a huge fan of. There is something that happens in the film that really had me cringe. There also seemed to be some CGI. Not a lot of it and for the most part, I couldn’t tell if there was, it was pretty seamless. I will say I did notice it in the truck scene. I did like the subtle use on Church and on Ellie though to show us that something happened to them. This was definitely a solid part of the film.
Now with that said, even though I really like the original film, I do have to say I think this version is better to me. I like the darker feel to this film, especially with the change from the previous one. The acting is really good, which helps to build the tension and actually makes the emotional aspects of the film that much more intense. The effects were pretty solid, both the practical and the CGI. The score of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it doesn’t hurt the film either. I don’t think it’s great by any stretch, but I think it’s good still. I’ve come down quite a bit since my initial viewing though and now that the hype is gone and I’ve been able to digest it more.
My Rating: 8 out of 10