Rating: 3.5 stars
“Pet Sematary” is one of Stephen King’s most frightening and disturbing novels to date. The newly released movie, however, is not as hair-raising as other film adaptations of his novels, such as “It,” which was remade in 2017.
While it falls short in the horror category and is unlikely to cause nightmares, “Pet Sematary” still has an eerie premise that will captivate viewers. Directors Kevin Klosch and Dennis Widmyer capture many of the novel’s elements, as well as incorporating more character development than is usual for the genre.
The plot follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clark) and his wife, Rachel (Amy Seimetz), who recently relocated from Boston to a rural town in Maine. After their daughter’s cat dies, the couple discovers a dark and creepy graveyard deep in the woods behind their house. Dr. Creed speaks to his neighbor about the graveyard, setting off a chain reaction of horrific events.
Horror movies usually utilize tropes such as supernatural elements, suspense, jump scares and creepy music, and “Pet Sematary” is no different. In addition to these elements, this film also relies heavily on the parents’ fear of losing a child, and the emotional stress that accompanies it. A lot of the horror elements and eerie premise are based on death and the resurrection of the dead.
King’s plot was originally brought to the big screen by director Mary Lambert in 1989. The original film received mixed reviews from viewers, who begged for the film to be remade. Thirty years later, the remake contains a variety of plot changes from the original movie and book. The deviation from the 1989 movie provides a fresh take on the film that will surprise even the most loyal King followers.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, King describes how the events and places in the movie are actually based on his former home.
“Everything in the book up to the point of the supernatural stuff is true,” King said.
The book was based on King’s memories of his former house in Orrington, Maine. He moved into the house with his family when he was offered a job as a writer in residence at the University of Maine. In the back of the house was a pet cemetery. King’s daughter even buried her cat there. The book also describes the busy road that the Creed family lived on, and King described that his family’s house was the inspiration for this road.
In the same interview, King admitted it took a few years to publish the book after he finished writing it.
“If I had my way about it, I still would not have published ‘Pet Sematary.’ I don’t like it. It’s a terrible book — not in terms of the writing, but it just spirals down into darkness. It seems to be saying that nothing works and nothing is worth it, and I don’t really believe that,” King said.
Despite the film’s proclaimed plunge into darkness, it provides an interesting take on death and what can happen after. Though it follows typical horror movie guidelines, it offers a fresh take on the supernatural.