*Sigh* Pet Sematary (1989) is a one of those movies that I hold in quite high regard. I watched it at an age that most would consider inappropriate and it gave me nightmares. Still, it makes me very nostalgic and it helped mould my love for the horror genre. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that it’s perfect because it isn’t but I adore it all the same. You know what’s all the rage? Remakes. You know what’s even more all the rage? Remakes of Stephen King adaptions. 30 years after the release of the original, Pet Sematary (2019) was unleashed upon the world.
It is the second adaptation of the 1983 novel of the same name by Stephen King, after the 1989 film. The film stars Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetzand and John Lithgow.
Louis Creed, a doctor from Boston, moves to the small town of Ludlow, Maine with his wife Rachel, their two young children, Ellie and Gage, and Ellie’s cat, Church. Exploring the woods, Ellie stumbles across a funeral procession of children taking a deceased dog to a cemetery called Pet Sematary. Jud Crandall, their neighbour, warns them that the woods are dangerous.
Louis is left shaken after failing to save the life of Victor Pascow, a student who was fatally injured after being struck by a vehicle. He later experiences a vivid dream in which Pascow leads him to the back of the cemetery and warns him not to “venture beyond.”
On Halloween, Church is killed by a truck. Jud takes Louis to the Pet Sematary, then farther to an ancient burial ground to bury Church. The next day, Louis is stunned when Church returns home alive, although he is more aggressive, violently ripping open a bird. Jud tells Louis that the burial ground brings things back from the dead and is believed to be inhabited by a spirit known as the Wendigo.
During her birthday party, Ellie spots Church on the road and rushes to him, but is killed in an accident with a large tanker truck. The family is devastated, and Rachel and Gage leave to spend a few days with Rachel’s parents. Jud, sensing that Louis is planning on resurrecting Ellie, warns the grieving father that “sometimes dead is better”. Despite warnings from him and Pascow’s spirit, Louis’s grief and guilt spur him to carry out his plan.
Right, if you’ve seen the original or read the book then you can figure out what happens after Ellie returns. I’m going to do my very best not to come across biased. Like I said, there was definitely room for improvement over the original. However, this remake fails to deliver much of anything. I just don’t see the point in remaking any film if you’re going to pretty much redo it shot for shot. This remake changes very little from the original. The only thing it mixes up is Ellie dying instead of Gage and it’s arguable if it improves it at all. It’s a matter of opinion which you find more tragic. It adds in a few new scenes after Ellie returns but nothing that memorable.
It irks me because the original was a more faithful adaption of the book in more ways than one. You could say that they wanted to avoid the comparisons by not doing Gage again. However, I believe they simply shied away from having a toddler die. Personally, I feel the original captured the emotional trauma of the situation much better. This remake lacks creativity. It has something intriguing with Ellie being the child that returns but it does nothing interesting with it. I thought the actress who played Ellie was decent until she became undead. Her performance felt a little forced. She does her best angry face but it could have been done way better. Other than that the acting is actually really good.
Even Jud & Rachel have the exact same deaths except its Ellie instead of Gage. What was the point!?
Zelda is still creepy as hell and they add in some new elements that are pretty cool. The effects are obviously improved in the remake but that’s to be expected in 2019.
There is one thing that they change near the end regarding Rachel that I did like.
Unfortunately, this Pet Sematary remake is downright lazy. It aims for mediocrity and succeeds with flying colours. This could have been an opportunity to start a franchise but instead they may have buried it for good. Although, it did do well financially so I’ll likely be proved wrong. It offers little to no surprises for anyone that has seen the original or read the book. If you’re looking for a faithful adaption of King’s novel then don’t bother with this. Would I watch this again? No. Would I watch the original instead? Definitely.