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Pet Sematary – Review

Stephen King acolytes understandably have a soft spot for Mary Lambert’s original 1989 adaption of Pet Sematary, but sometimes remade is better.

The master of the macabre Stephen King is having something of a late career renaissance, and Pet Sematary is the latest tale of terror to receive a thematically loaded, bone chilling revamp.

Mary Lambert’s original rendition of King’s ninth novel was well received but failed to fully manifest the unshakable eeriness of the source material.

Thankfully, a second stab at a big screen adaption – courtesy of director duo Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer – has done the story justice, in what is arguably the most frightening Stephen King adaption yet (no, we haven’t forgotten IT ).

The writer of the remake Jeff Buhler has stayed true to the principles of King’s storytelling. Everyone loves a good scare (and there are plenty on offer here), but they leave little effect if we aren’t invested in the characters and story.

Initially I had some trepidations about whether the remake would finally capture this essence, but shortly into my experience they were wholly alleviated. Buhler has efficaciously succeeded in humanising the Creed family, turning them into our surrogates, thus making the scares far more vicariously terrifying.

The plot (almost revealed in its entirety by the trailer) centres around Louis (the father), wife Rachael, eight-year-old daughter Ellie, toddler Gage, and one seriously frightening feline called ‘Church’.

The family move to the rural Maine town of Ludlow with the intent of leaving their hectic city lives behind. However, there are two seemingly innocuous (yet hugely significant) drawbacks to their plans.

One, their house is located next to a road where barrelling 18-wheelers fly by without warning, and two, its vast backyard contains a spooky pet ‘sematary’ where local kids have laid their beloved furry friends to rest for generations.

When Church gets inevitably pancaked by one of the bullet-train oil tankers, friendly recluse neighbour Jud leads Louis to the perfect burial ground (quite literally) just beyond the communal cemetery. See where this is going? Look up Cujo if not.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, check out the trailer below… ‘What comes outta the ground ain’t what you put in’.

Shortly after another tragedy, the plot descends into full-scale horror mode and a series of subtle, yet forceful scares ensue. Rachael facing her personal demons was particularly scarring for me.

It would be boorish to give away the grim homestretch of Pet Sematary, suffice to say the final scene is perfectly perverse – a sick-joke stinger that will stick with you for a long time after the credits have rolled.

This film dares to go to darker places than you’d expect from a big-studio project (something IT could’ve used more of frankly), with plentiful jump-scares, jolts, and misdirections bolstered by a pretty heady supernatural story rooted in inexorable grief.

4
out of 5

Remade is definitely better

A thrilling and memorable addition to a constantly growing catalogue of King big screen adaptions

 

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