“Pet Sematary” is a shocking remake of the Stephen King classic, and it will send a shiver down the spine of any unsuspecting viewer.
The film, directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, follows Louis Creed, played by Jason Clarke, and his family after they move to rural Ludlow, Maine from the busier Boston. Creed moves to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, played Amy Seimetz, daughter Ellie, played by Jeté Laurence, and young son Gage. Louis and his family soon encounter Jud Crandall, played by John Lithgow, their neighbor at the closest house over. Through the film, the Creed’s and Jud form a friendly relationship with one another and after the Creed family cat Church gets hit by a corporate truck on the dangerous highway beside the Creed home, Crandall shows Louis to the infamous Pet Sematary, a local landmark where citizens of Ludlow bury their dead animals. Louis and Crandall begin to experience strange happenings after Church is miraculously resurrected. Church begins to exhibit violent behavior even towards Ellie and other tragedies soon strike the family.
“Pet Sematary” is ultimately a film about being careful what you ask for, because you just might get it. In the film, the hand of Stephen King is evident by the “vignette” approach. As far as events, there isn’t actually a lot that happens in the film. They are a few major landmark narrative points but largely, the film’s development is slow and mitigated. This, however, is in service to the film rather than a hindrance. King has developed horror over his career, but this movie is based on a book from 1983. It shows the formula that King developed in the beginning of his career. He shows a very small subject in a very small period of time and with only a few major events happening. By this technique, King is able to develop more on the characters rather than waste time trying to overdevelop the story of the film.
The mystery of the film comes from the uncertainty of it all. Crandall himself doesn’t even know the true power of the Pet Sematary. He describes the ground as “bad” and the woods as belonging to “something else.” This kind of mysticism is a hallmark of King’s work. In his novels, there are often older persons of the community that the character has moved into that have some sort of secret or occult knowledge and they dole it out slowly and sometimes even maliciously. With Crandall, this is not always the case. Crandall is more of a development of this idea. He doesn’t seem to have all the answers about the Pet Sematary; he fears the power that he’s seen but he doesn’t really understand what exactly is going on with the mystic funeral ground.
“Pet Sematary” is in service to itself. That is not something most remakes can say. The film doesn’t attempt to pander to the old film by being a “shot-for-shot,” but it doesn’t entirely disregard the original either. “Pet Sematary” receives a A rating.