Wassup, y’all! Remember when you were a kid and your dog or cat went missing and your parents told you they had to take them to the farm? Well, let me break it to you – they lied. Your sweet little pet probably ended up on the side of the road or let loose into the woods somewhere (dayum, Ma). But, things could’ve been worse. Ma and Pa Dukes could’ve buried ol’ Fluffy or King (or whatever crazy name your pet had) in a dreaded pet cemetery. Not just any pet cemetery, but THE Pet Sematary. Believe me, you didn’t want that to happen.
Stephen King’s movie warned us back in 1989 and it seems we need another warning. Soooo, here we are, 30 years later, with an updated version of putting cats in the dirt to be resurrected because apparently, they don’t actually have nine lives.
“Pet Sematary” stars Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, and Jete Lawrence. I’m assuming you’ve seen or at least heard of the original movie or read something about the Stephen King novel. With that said, I’m just gonna jump right into it. This updated version is somewhat better in terms of special effects and exposition, but better doesn’t always mean great. Performances are solid for the most part. Seimetz as Rachel Creed is outstanding. Her character isn’t coping well with past experiences with death and has a difficult time facing that truth. Throughout the film, her desperation and inner-struggle is felt with ferocity. She carries this film, in my opinion. Lithgow as Jud isn’t better than Fred Gwynne’s ’89 performance, but he still does an exceptional job. The trick is getting the audience to believe his heart was in the right place when he did what he did, then realizing he f’ed up and wants to fix it. Nah bruh, there’s no coming back from something that horrid. You opened Pandora’s box and now you have to deal with the consequences. It’s the whole initial cavalier attitude then all of a sudden deep remorse that isn’t believable, but Lithgow tries to convince us Jud’s feelings are truly genuine…aiight. Clarke as Jason’s character stays stoic the entire time. That’s due to his beliefs, but in a horror movie, if you’re not the antagonist, although in this case he could share some bad guy blame, that personality doesn’t fly. His arc doesn’t move well because of that trait and hampers his performance a little. But hey, Church the cat still has it, even after 30 years. That’s around 136 in human years. Wow.
Since this “Pet Sematary” is a 2019 re-make, there’s a new spin on it, which brings me to Lawrence’s portrayal of Ellie. Maaaaan, (in my Keith Sweat voice) she may be young but she’s ready! Her before and after is scary scary! If you’ve seen the trailers for this film, you know I’m not giving away the importance of her character. This girl is something else! This twist was a wise choice and so was casting her. Lawrence is creepy, the movie is creepy, but there are some biiiiig problems overall. “Pet Sematary” is predictable, like super predictable. Even if you’ve never heard of the original and this is your first time seeing this re-make, I bet you’ll be able to figure out what’s going to happen in following scenes. Where’s the fun in that? A certain storyline in this film is unnecessary, also. There’s a recurring narrative that at first sets up a particular character’s vulnerability, but it keeps coming back and adds nothing to the film’s value. It sticks out like a sore thumb. “Pet Sematary” stays true to the novel and that’s not a good thing. Touch on that storyline once then move on, please. Then there’s the ending. The 3rd act is moderately frightening only to conclude with a comedic thud. Really? Don’t worry, you’ll see it coming. “Pet Sematary” deals with loss and belief systems in a Stephen King-ish kind of way. It’s unfortunate that this wasn’t explored more.
For a remake, it’s scary and the acting is on point, but the total feel doesn’t go, “BOO!”. In fact, it may make you go, “Booooooooo”. I’m giving “Pet Sematary” a morning/midday co-sign. Sometimes you need to let sleeping – or dead – dogs lie.