The good thing about wanting to make a movie based on a Stephen King book is if you do not feel like adapting one of his novel you can always remake one of the many movies based on his writings. Pet Semartary is a remake of the 1989 film of the same name. The original is one of the most beloved King movies so a new version was met with a combination of anticipation and trepidation.
Based on the 1983 novel, Pet Sematary (a sign at the entrance of the grave site has the incorrect spelling), is about the the Creed family. The Creeds have moved from Boston to the smaller town of Ludlow, Maine. (Ludlow appears to be located near Derry.) While they try to get used to their new lives, the Creeds befriend their neighbor before learning the secret of their new home.
Initially, the movie does a great job of setting a creepy air. Soon after the Creeds arrive at their new home, Ellie (Jete Laurence) sees a funeral procession in the woods in their backyard. A group of children walks by wearing crude animal masks. When the Creeds’ young daughter eventually sneaks off in the direction of the processions, Ellie stumbles across the titular cemetery.
The area is as one would expect a site filled with buried animals to be. The setting is well lit, but is somehow still bathed in grey. The tombstones themselves are a ragtag assembly obviously put up in a rush. It looks like the playground of a very morbid child. There is an immediate sense of dread.
Unfortunately, Pet Sematary does not capitalize on its great opening. The movie is very generic. There are they mysterious giggles of unseen children, running footsteps are heard throughout the house, and plenty of jump scares. It is almost as if a different crew took over after the well done beginning. What hurts the film even more is the strong opening makes the audience wonder, “why wasn’t the rest of the movie the same”?
There is tension in the film, but it is not due to great writing or storytelling. Instead, the anxiety is built around the obvious jump scares. The audience knows when each one is coming since the camera work looks like any other typical horror movie. It is similar to being punished two for flinching. You roll up your sleeve and just wait for the punches. There is no excitement or surprise, you just brace yourself for the hit.
What makes things even worse is Pet Sematary actually has some pretty solid ideas. Who were in the procession in the beginning? The movie seems to hint it is more than just a morbid town tradition. There is also a throwaway line about how the site actually feeds off humans. The idea of an area feeding off the grief and suffering of others would be intriguing. Especially, since the film does with loss on such a personal level.
The remake of Pet Sematary may be one of the most forgettable Stephen King adaptations. Even without comparing it to the far superior original, there is not much to it. It is poorly paced, filled with laughable acting, and follows a very formulaic path despite its unique premise. It would be perfect in The Conjuring universe.
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