Pet Sematary (2019)

Bury people here, and they come back as satanic brats

As far as I know, there are two film version of “Pet Sematary,” both based on Stephen King’s novel. I skipped the first one was from 1989, because I’ve heard from the late great Gene Siskel that it was awful, and I’ll respect his 0-star review of it. And the latest version is kind of a disappointment to me, mainly because it lacks the pure evils of such Stephen King horror adaptations as “The Shining” and the recent take on “It.” I wanted something more out of “Pet Sematary.”

We meet a family who’s just relocated from Boston to Ludlow, Maine. The family consists of the father Dr. Lucas Creed (Jason Clarke), his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz from “Alien: Covenant”), their little girl Ellie (Jete Laurence), their toddler son Gage (twins Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), and their cat Church-short for Winston Churchill.

Their new property has an ancient spot called “Pet Sematary.” Yeah, I know: it’s spelled wrong. It’s where people bury their deceased pets. When Church gets killed by a truck, their new neighbor Judd (John Lithgow) tells him to bury him at the cemetery. In my perspective, Lithgow gives the best performance in the movie, mainly because of how his dialogue and sentimental values keep himself in check.

The next day, Church apparently comes back to life. Judd explains that local tribesmen were able to bring the resurrect the dead, but they don’t come back the way you want them to. That’s why he acts like a savage, scratching his owners and eating dead birds like one. “Sometimes dead is better,” as he says.

But that’s not the worst part.

Horrors emerge for the family. Rachel is haunted by her dark past, when she lost her disfigured sister. Lucas starts seeing the apparition of a dead patient of his (Obssa Ahmed). And when Ellie runs out in the street to get her cat, she gets slaughtered by a speeding truck. I felt “Hereditary” was scarier and more involved than the way they react to her death.

Lucas thinks the Pet Sematary will save her life, but obviously, it doesn’t turn out well, because she comes back a satanic brat.

“Pet Sematary” works well when Lithgow tells Clarke about this mythical place, how Clarke and Seimetz deal with their own apparition horrors, and when that evil cat appears. Now that’s just creepy, especially when the cinematography and art direction draw everything out.

But the movie, directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, isn’t all that scary or thought provoking. In fact, it kind of provoked me when dead kids come back as brats, blaming people for the deaths of their loved ones. It may have been based on a book, but I’ve always been irritated by the fact that some people don’t know the difference between “killed” and “murdered.” Read a dictionary people.

This may be an ambitious version, but in a recent trend of horror flicks (Stephen King or not), it lacks the pure evils of “It,” the terrors of “Hereditary,” and the surprises of “Us.”

⭐️⭐️

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