STARRING: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke, Sonia Maria Chirila, Maria Herrera, Jacob Lemieux, Maverick Fortin, Lou Ferrando, Najya Muipatayi and Rosalie Drouin
Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.
Louis Creed, his wife Rachel, and their two children, Gage and Ellie, move to a rural home where they are welcomed and enlightened about the eerie ‘Pet Sematary’ located nearby. After the tragedy of their cat being killed by a truck, Louis resorts to burying it in the mysterious pet cemetery, which is definitely not as it seems, as it proves to the Creeds that sometimes, dead is better.
Pet Sematary is the second film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel of the same name (with the original film released in 1989), that focuses on the Creed family moving from Boston, Massachusetts to the small town of Ludlow, Maine. As Louis, Rachel, Gage and Ellie move into their new rural home and attempt to adjust to their new surroundings, they learn that nearby deep in the woods, there’s a burial ground for the towns pets known as ‘Pet Sematary’.
Going into this I made sure I didn’t revisit the original film as I haven’t seen it since I was a kid and didn’t want to go in making comparisons between the two. I will say that I did enjoy the initial concept of Louis and Rachel butting heads over how to talk to their daughter about the inevitability of death and the afterlife. Rachel is a firm believer that the soul lives on, whilst Louis, a doctor, believes that there isn’t. The film has a moody atmosphere to it as you feel the tension simmer in the first half of the film, showcasing the Sematary and how Louis is seemingly drawn to it in his visions. Rachel is probably the most interesting character of the Creed family due to her backstory involving her sister that leads to some of the highlights of the film involving body horror. The performances overall are actually good. Jason Clarke is good as the stoic father who slowly but surely starts to lose his sanity due to his visions and learning about the history of the burial ground, whereas Amy Seimetz is really good as Rachel, especially in how she’s trying to come to terms with her own grief and shield Ellie from experiencing anything like it at her age. Jeté Laurence is especially good with her performance as Ellie and John Lithgow is as engaging as ever to watch on screen as next door neighbour Jud. The main star however of the film is Ellie’s cat Church and whenever he appears you know something sinister may be afoot.
Unfortunately the film feels like it’s caught between a rock and a hard place with its hour and forty minute runtime as the first half of the film is just exposition overload, especially with John Lithgow’s Jud existing for that purpose to explain the history of the Pet Sematary, as well as explain it even further to Louis through books upon books. While the second half of the film picks up after a pivotal moment, it does feel like it completely rushes the finale, not allowing time for certain scenes and moments to sink in properly and because of that, the film feels kind of like a standard, generic horror film, focusing more on creating these random jump scares for the sake of it. Unfortunately as much as I liked his performance, I felt Seimetz’s Rachel was a much more interesting character to focus on leading the story than Clarke’s Louis. There’s certain moments in the burial grounds of the Sematary and beyond the grounds like you can feel it taking place on a studio set with special effects background used, which is rather unfortunate. The film chooses moody atmosphere rather than character focus as there’s not enough dialogue (or any good monologue) scenes for the actors to work with and the film feels like smooth sailing…in terms of feeling similar with the horror genre.
Pet Sematary is moody, atmospheric and has some nice ideas with solid performances from Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow and Jeté Laurence, but yet it feels like a missed opportunity due to its generic script and horror cliches. Still, I did like the ending. 5/10