Pet Sematary isn’t the kind of thriller you might expect
Stephen King is known for his understanding of horror. He built a career on his ability to elicit fear in his readers, after all. And when the entertainment industry decided to latch on to his stories, more of the world opened—or, more literally, closed—their eyes as a new world unfolded before them.
So when King went on the record to say that Pet Sematary is the one that genuinely scared him the most, you know you’re in for a good time.
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Pet Sematary opens with Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moving to a small town, with his wife, two children and their family cat, Church, in tow. They’re excited at the prospect of slowing their lives down, with Louis taking charge of a school clinic (theoretically less stressful than his emergency room shifts in Boston)—but this quickly becomes clear that the move was not for the better.
While exploring their new property, his daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) come across a procession of sorts. There were several children, one banging drums and another carrying a deceased dog on a wheelbarrow. All of them were wearing animal masks:
As all children do, Ellie gets curious and follows their trail to the Pet Sematary, where she meets Jud (John Lithgow), who explains that the space has been used by children of all generations to bury their beloved animals. Meanwhile, Louis struggles with frightening hallucinations after he loses a teenager who was hit by a car.
Things then start to spiral as the trailer indicates: The Creeds lose their cat and Jud suggests to bury it in space a little further than the Pet Sematary. Church appears in their home the next morning, looking like he got electrocuted but still very much alive (albeit a lot more aggressive). So when Ellie gets hit by a truck, Louis tries his luck in hopes that she’ll be brought back as Church was—and then things really start to get fucked up.
Let God take his own fucking children.
—Dr. Louis Creed
You’d think it was brought-to-life Ellie that would creep you out—which she does—but it’s more the premise of the film that buries the fear inside you. When Louis says, “Let God take his own fucking children” in an uproar and “I need more time with her” in a whisper, you feel it. You think, Maybe I would have done the same. You consider that maybe he isn’t being such an idiot.
Pet Sematary is about family and the love of a father who was willing to change his life to be there for her. It’s about a mother’s unwillingness to accept that the child in front of her is no longer hers. It creates a cycle of desperation, panic, morality and genuineness. You’re left to watch as a family is torn apart as it tries to put itself together again.
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If the question is whether or not this remake is a good film, then the answer is yes; the screams that lit up the theater are proof of this. The acting is effective, from John Lithgow’s words of wisdom to Jeté Laurence’s innocent laughter turned threatening warnings. The direction of Kevin Kölsch (Mama 2) and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes) truly understand what it takes to portray a story of this caliber and following.
But like all other horror films, it has its faults. The buildup was a little longer than expected, especially since the trailer already lays out the flow of the film. There were subplots explored in too much length that didn’t add enough to the bigger picture. Whichever way, Pet Sematary is a good investment for anyone that loves horror—whether casual or otherwise.
Pet Sematary premieres in Philippine theaters on April 3, 2019.
Photos United International Pictures
Art Alexandra Lara