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- Apr 4, 2017
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Out of all the Stephen King novels and movies out there, none were more creepy to 9 year old me than “Pet Sematary. I guess I’m not the only one either, as Stephen King himself has said multiple times that “Pet Sematary” was the book that he felt he pushed the line too far. From the “Pet Sematary” dedication.
When I'm asked (as I frequently am) what I consider to be the most frightening book I've ever written, the answer I give comes easily and with no hesitation: Pet Sematary...It's the one I put in the drawer, thinking I had finally gone too far...I had gone too far in terms of my own personal feelings. Put simply, I was horrified by what I had written, and the conclusions I'd drawn.
It’s not a hard leap of the imagination to see why either. Horrible things happening to innocent children are much more disturbing than it happening to “normal” adults, pets, or aliens to the human subconscious. Think about it. Words like “rape”, “torture”, “death”, “murder”, “abuse” all sound bad enough as they are. Now add the word “child” in front of each of those words in your mind and watch how your skin crawls more viscerally. I guess it has to do with our paternal instincts and the horror one finds at a true INNOCENT” having something happen to them. Thus when Stephen King wrote a story about murdered child coming back from the dead and terrorizing the living, it was seen as one of his more horrific works.
Pet Sematary (whether in book form or in the film) really is a horrific tale on the surface and underneath. It’s a story about a family who has suffered horrible losses, and instead of trying to mend itself from the inside out, utilizes opposite methods to try and patch the wounds that have formed. The end result is a tale of terror and disturbing monstrosity that evokes all sorts of nasties from the other side of the veil, and leaves one with an uncomfortable feeling at the end.
I grew up watching the original Pet Sematary on VHS and DVD, and it was a bit of a mixed bag as a film. On one hand it is REALLY creepy and disturbing, especially when the young son comes back from the grave to lay waste to his father. The ending is one of those heart wrenching ones that leaves you more sad for those involved in the story rather than completely horrified and disgusted. On the other hand, the movie suffered from several faults, one of them being a bit hokey with the acting. Fred Gwynne especially (everyone knows him as Herman Munster on The Munsters) seemed out of place as old Jud, and instead of portraying a sad old man feels a little too much like Herman Munster at times. That being said, it’s still a favorite watch of mine and I have probably owned it on 5 different sets over 4 different formats (VHS, DVD, Blu-ray and now the new 4K UHD disc that came out of a few months ago).
Well, as we all know, that special place just so happens to be an ancient Indian secret that has been lost to the ages out in the Maine wilderness. After burying Church there the Creed family wakes up to find Church has found his way home, alive and well. Or at least a facsimile of Church has found its way back, because the cat that is at their doorstep is no longer the kind and cuddly animal that was once the family pet. It turns out that this ancient Indian place returns dead beings to life, but they are either possessed by something otherworldy, or else irrevocably changed. When one of the two children gets hit by a semi truck a few weeks later, the family falls apart. Rachel leaves to a family member to come to grips with her own grief and childhood drama, while Louis stays home and inevitably resurrects his child just like Church was. And just like you would expect, what comes back is NOT the child he once new, but only his child in form.
Pet Sematary is an interesting flick. The original 1989 film stuck VERY closely to the book, but it missed some of King’s exposition and a few scenes of the novel. Despite it’s hokey acting it was a terrifying psychological horror film about the follies of dealing with problems from the outside in vs. the other away around. The 2019 film is it’s own movie, and while it leaves out some of the scenes in the book, it also folds in some scenes from the novel that weren’t in the 1989 film either, so it’s its own film too. The acting is top notch, with both John Lithgow and Jason Clarke turning in stellar performances. Lithgow’s Jud steals the whole movie really, as he’s leaps and bounds better than the Herman Munster impression from 30 years ago. However, there’s a few neat twists that end up being a bit generic for some reason. The director’s and writers mess with the audiences head a bit, as there are TWO children instead of just one, and they try and fake the audience out over which child is going to be the one who comes back like Church. A move which is kind of a neat nodding to the original, but also a bit cheesy.
The 2019 remake is a very solid horror movie, and it’s really not a bad movie at all, but it lacks the psychological horror that was in the first film and made that 30 year old movie so successful. The better acting and new scenes from the book really flesh out the movie a bit, and once the final act roles around the terror kicks up into overdrive, even if it’s just classic monster movie terror instead of being heady.
Rated R for horror violence, bloody images, and some language
4K Video: Video:
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Night Terrors – Family Haunting Visions
- Ellie• The Tale of Timmy Baterman
• Beyond the Deadfall
- Chapter One: Resurrection – Directors, screenwriters and cast discuss bringing this classic back to life
- Chapter Two: The Final Resting Place—A deeper look into finding the right location for the terror to unfold
- Chapter Three: The Road to Sorrow— Inside the film's tragic themes and creating the iconic cat "Church"
- Chapter Four: Death Comes home—Unearth the creepy elements behind the climax and final scenes of the film
Pet Sematary 2019 is a solid movie as I said. It takes the general framework of the book and makes it it’s own thing, but it has a problem with being rather generic and rote at times. Instead of going into the problems of dealing with loss and pain this way, it opts to go a more traditional blood and gore route once the awakenings have begun. The acting is solid all the way around, but John Lithgow proves once more why he’s got a sort of legendary aura around him for his characters. The 4K UHD disc is a solid upgrade over the Blu-ray video wise, but isn’t leaps and bounds thanks to Paramount putting the Atmos track on both the Blu-ray and the 4K UHD disc. All extras are on the Blu-ray disc as well. Solid entertaining watch.
Starring: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz, Jete Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Maria Herrera
Directed by: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Written by: Stephen King (Novel), Matt Greenberg, Jeff Buhler
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Czech, German, Spanish, Spanish (Latin), French, French (Canadian), Italian, Japanese, Hungarian, Polish, Russian
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
Runtime: 101 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Recommendation: Solid Watch