Old Movie resurrected to new life

A remake of Pet Sematary comes out to mixed reviews



PET SEMATARY, from Paramount Pictures. (Kerry Hayes) courtesy of Variety.com

You are going to hell. Really.

Well, only if you’re in Pet Sematary and have the unfortunate luck of being resurrected by your tormented father after your death who was taught the method by a crazy (but well meaning) old man who lives right by your house whose wife died. So, yeah. It’s a good thing that it’s a fictional movie based on the creepy but well-crafted story by the illustrious Stephen King and produced by the esteemed di Bonaventura Pictures. Really creepy stuff.

To made a long story short, Pet Sematary is a story about whether man can play God and how, as it was phrased in The Prestige (another great movie), how man’s reach exceeds his grasp. The story is about how a doctor, Louis Creed, and his wife Rachel, move to the wilderness and away from the big city with their two children, Ellie and Gage. In a freak car accident, Ellie is killed and a grief-stricken Louis talks with his neighbor Jud about life and death. Jud then tells Louis a local secret: an Indian burial ground in the forest can resurrect the dead. Louis brings Ellie’s body to the site and suffice it to say, everything goes to hell. Little does he know that resurrecting someone curses their soul to reside in hell while also bringing them back as a psychopath. The newly reborn Ellie goes on a rampage eventually killing everyone and bringing them back from the dead. In the end only Gage is left and the now zombified family – Louis, Rachel, and Ellie – surround the car he’s hiding in, leaving the viewer to ponder what will become of him.

The movie itself was, to be quite frank, nothing special. It wasn’t particularly bad but not particularly good either. The production, as far as one can tell, was pretty standard. However, it does stand out as a remake of a previous Stephen King novel adaption. Now whether this remake is significantly better or worse than the original movie is up for debate (I haven’t seen the first), it was deemed a movie that is “definitely recommended” by film surveyor PostTrack.

Although the movie itself was, in my opinion, average, the leads did a fantastic job. For one, we have Jason Clarke portraying the male “protagonist” Louis Creed. Clarke isn’t particularly known for his horror films, being perhaps most famous for his performances in Zero Dark Thirty, a war film, and Mudbound, a period drama. Despite this, he did an excellent job portraying Louis as the grieving father and then desperate man. We also have Amy Seimetz who played the role of concerned wife Rachel. Although I am of the belief that Seimetz’s character was hampered by a poor backstory, she delivered a stellar performance. She does have a background in the genre though, having portrayed the female lead in Aliens: Covenant. Finally, there is Jete Laurence as Ellie. Laurence, despite her age, was able to perform fantastically first as the young, innocent daughter, and then as the demented resurrected demon from hell. Overall, an A+ cast.

As far as supporting cast goes, the main one worthy of commentary is John Lithgow, who portrays Jud – the concerned and caring neighbor. Lithgow is a veteran actor, having been active in the movie and theatrical business since 1972 – almost 50 years. This shows in his work in the movie. He delivers the part of the nice, older man with regrets quite convincingly, a role quite different from when he was the voice actor of Yoda on a Star Wars radio drama. Of course, there is also Leo, Tonic, Jager, and JD – the cats that portrayed Church the family cat. Although not a particularly immense role, the four cats all played the same animal convincingly – the fact that they were simple housecats was indistinguishable!

Kerry Hayes
Left to right: John Lithgow as Jud and Jeté Laurence as Ellie in PET SEMATARY, from Paramount Pictures.

There wasn’t much in regards to special effects in the film – the premise, however outlandish, was very much grounded in a more realistic setting. However, whenever they did appear, they were outstanding. In the film, whenever someone as resurrected they appeared… dead, but not so much as to make it obvious that they were, well, dead. The makeup artists did a fine job making this easy but not over the top distinction. In addition to that, the lighting was on point. The darkness that surrounded the whole set gave an additional layer of creepy to an already paranoia inducing film. Last, but not least the sound design was great. The amount of times I was surrounding in an eerie silence only to be surprised by a sudden sound was many and definitely contributed to the whole atmosphere.

Pet Sematary is a good movie adaption based on a previous move adaption based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It excels in the areas where it excels, and fails where it fails. In summary, its good but not great, just average, and certainly no Aliens, Children of the Corn, Friday the 13th, or The Shining. It was simply ok. One could even say it might have been resurrected and brought to life one too many times.