Pet Semetary (2019) Review

Pet Semetary is an updated adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. It stars Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz as parents of two young children, played by Jete Laurence and Hugo/Lucas Lavoie. When Clarke’s character, Louis takes a new job as a doctor in a small town in Maine, the family moves to a large piece of land they soon learn has a dark secret. Namely, the woods contains an ancient burial ground the townsfolk have dubbed “Pet Semetary” and where they bury their deceased animals. When the family cat, Church, is killed, Louis is taken by his elderly neighbor (John Lithgow) into the woods to bury it. Louis is shocked when Church returns to the house alive, yet different, the next day. When one of his children is killed in a gruesome accident, Louis’s grief forces him to decide to do the same with his child, despite many warnings telling him not to.

It’s been years since I’ve seen the 1989 version of Pet Semetary, but I do remember it feeling dated. It seemed like it was ripe for a remake, and I didn’t have any problem with it when it was indeed announced following the success of IT (2017). In fact, I think this has one of the best trailers of the past few years, and its creepy vibe definitely had be intrigued. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t live up to the potential set forth in that great trailer. It falls into the pitfall that we see all to often in modern horror movies, featuring nearly all the horror cliches and relying almost solely on cheap jump scares. Despite having a dark tone, and doing a decent job of building a creepy atmosphere, very little of the scares pay off in a meaningful way.

The film’s stars do a really good job of working with a middling story and mediocre writing to churn out good performances. I’ve always enjoyed Jason Clarke and wish he would get some more roles with some meat to them. He probably gives the best performance of the movie, but both Seimetz and Laurence give him a run for his money. Lithgow also gives a chilling performance in his role.

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The biggest crime this movie commits, besides just flat out not being very entertaining, is not delving deep enough into the moral and ethical questions it raises. I think there’s a lot to play with in terms of how difficult these decisions would be and how much of a factor grief would play into it. The movie starts to pursue that avenue, but almost instantly abandons it in favor of a more supernatural and unsatisfying explanation. Going deeper into it would have forced the audience to face their own morality and how they might act in a similar situation. This would probably would have helped the movie be a lot more than just another average horror movie.

PET SEMATARY, from Paramount Pictures.

In the end, Pet Semetary is another in a long line of disappointing Stephen King adaptations. It deviates pretty heavily from the source material in the second half of the movie, and for the most part it is for the worst. If you are a big King fan, this might be worth watching when it comes out on Netflix, but don’t waste your time or money rushing out to a theater.

Pet Semetary comes close to getting a Felony, but I’ll settle for charging it with a Misdemeanor.

Ratings from low to high: Felony, Misdemeanor, 10-4, Positive ROP, Golden Donut

But seriously I should probably check my property and make sure there’s no pet cemetary right? I mean that’s really creepy itself.

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