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Review: ‘Pet Sematary’ is an Effective Remake of a Cult Classic

April 5, 2019Ferdosa Abdi

Pet Sematary is the latest Stephen King adaptation to hit the big screen, and it will certainly not be the last this year. The second retelling of King's novel of the same name — the first being director Mary Lambert's 1989 version — this latest adaptation of Pet Sematary is grim and unsettling, which is perfect for a movie about reanimated cats and children.

Written by Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler and directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, the story once again follows the Creed family, who are dealing with forces they do not understand. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) moves his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) to Ludlow, Maine to settle down after living a busy and exhausting life in Boston. But while Louis is looking forward to having a normal life, things aren't quite right in their new home.

One day, Louis has a disturbing encounter with a man named Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed). The young man is brought into the university hospital after a horrible accident, but mere moments after his death he appears to Louis, forewarning him of his family's impending doom. Louis does not heed the warning and, suffice to say, he is slowly led down a dark path after becoming better acquainted with his neighbor, Jud (John Lithgow), who offers his "help" after the family's cat, Church, meets an untimely death.

Many might question the need for remakes, arguing that they are unnecessary. However, today's cinema is built on them; it is simply our reality. Whenever something that is iconic for whatever reason is remade, the hope is that there is something done to warrant it. With Pet Sematary, there are a lot of rich ideas that could be expanded upon or thoroughly explored. However, that doesn't necessarily happen with this remake.

That said, Pet Sematary is still very effective horror. Unsettling is the most apt word to describe what Kölsch and Widmyer have created. There are a surprising amount of comedic beats that help alleviate the tension, but also set the audience up for more terror around the corner. Although the film is lacking in ambition script-wise, there is a lot done with respect to the style of the direction that makes the result worth it.

Ultimately, Pet Sematary succeeds in keeping Stephen King's story alive. There are many in this world who will never watch Mary Lambert's original, which is a damn shame, but this take on the story presents it to a whole new generation in a simple and effective manner. Like any good campfire story, it needs to be retold to keep it alive. Or sometimes, dead is better. You decide.

Pet Sematary releases April 5th, 2019 from Paramount Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for horror violence, bloody images, and some language. Its runtime is 1 hr. 41 min.

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