Pet Sematary is a 2019 horror film directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, and based upon the 1983 novel of the same name by master of horror, Stephen King. It is the second time this novel has been adapted to the big screen, the first time being in 1989. The film stars Jason Clarke as Lewis Creed, Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed, Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed, and John Lithgow as Jud Crandall. The film depicts the story of the Creed family and their discovery of a supernatural graveyard behind their new home that brings the dead back to life.
Let’s start with the positives in this movie, a majority of the acting is excellent, especially John Lithgow’s Jud. Jud is played so sweetly and sympathetically that you will feel for this man and his tragic past. Jeté Laurence is also quite good portraying the daughter of Lewis and Rachel, Ellie. She is adorable and plays the role with innocence and sincerity. There’s a lot more to her character and performance, but I won’t spoil anything. Amy Seimetz is good as Rachel, even if I didn’t find her character all that appealing. The cat actors that portray the family cat, Church, are also quite good and it was refreshing to see practical effects with animals in a film again, as opposed to the reliance on CGI we’ve seen lately. I’m looking at you Goose.
The directing in this film was quite strong as well. The directors excel in creating an atmosphere of dread and gloom, and handle the overload of exposition fairly well. The scares are also fairly effective in the film, with a lot of them coming from genuine suspense and terror.
That being said, I really didn’t enjoy this film all that much. It’s not bad by any means, but it’s not particularly great either. It rests somewhere in the middle. One of the biggest issues in this film is the mind-numbingly boring protagonist, Lewis. He’s so bland and uninteresting that a good amount of scenes where you should be fearful for him, you find yourself zoning out and not caring. Jason Clarke’s performance doesn’t do the character any justice either. He comes off very one-note and monotone, and with an already boring character, it just detracts from the film more.
The third act of this movie is where everything goes off the rails. The set-up is handled really well to carry us into the third act, but they do not stick the landing whatsoever. Scenes that are intended to be horrifying almost come off as comedic because they’re so ridiculous and over the top. I won’t get into spoilers, but there’s a character that they push really hard to make creepy, and it just doesn’t work. Also, the ending of this film is so incredibly depressing and bleak, that you’ll just wish you hadn’t watched it.
Stephen King adaptations are very hit and miss, and, sadly, Pet Sematary is a miss. The last adaptation of King, 2017’s IT, was almost perfect and opened a whole new renaissance of King adaptations on film. Sadly, the second outing of these new adaptations does not live up to the height of IT.
What’s your favorite Stephen King adaptation? Let us know in the comments.
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