Movie Review: Pet Sematary (2019)



Starring: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, & Amy Seimetz

Directed By: Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 hour 41 minutes

Pet Sematary has been made into a movie before.The original movie turns 30 years old this year.It’s one of those movies that was always on cable growing up, you’d watch it when you were told not to and it scared the heck out of you.I watched it as a sort of refresher for this new iteration, and it’s a whole heck of a lot worse than I remember.Not scary.Doesn’t set a mood or a tone.It’s pretty boring for the first hour or so.The only thing redeemable about the original is the character Jud, played by Fred Gwynne.Herman Munster from The Munsters.The Judge from My Cousin Vinny.The original is remembered a little more fondly than it should be.

2019’s version of Pet Sematary follows most of the beats of the original with one notable exception that I won’t spoil for you here.But it makes it a different movie, and in a lot of ways a more effective movie.The story changes have been signed off on by Stephen King himself.

We bear witness to a family moving to a new home in Maine.One with a unique burial ground in the backyard.One that’s able to make the dead live again.With a twist.Beyond the obvious, “Uhhh…why would anyone do any of the things the characters in this movie do” problem, Pet Sematary is pretty creepy at times.That’s a problem with a lot of scary movies.Everyone’s a blithering idiot.That’s the fun of these movies.

This remake takes the story to darker places than the original, thanks to the technological advancements of the last three decades.Practical effects are no longer required and as a movie maker, you’re only hindered by your own imagination.

Pet Sematary is far too back loaded for my tastes.Minus a few jump scares, there’s really nothing happening in the first half of this movie, and I think that’s being generous.The directing team set a good tone.The movie is often bathed in dark colors and the whole thing feels eerie throughout. Which is good.I needed a little more action or something.I just wasn’t as fulfilled as I wanted to be leaving the theater.Far too many long walks in the foggy backyard with nothing to come of them.

That said, it’s a better movie than the 1989 version.It goes to places that you couldn’t go to in a movie back then.It’s darker, much more morose.It does a lot of things really well, but is by no means perfect.The film introduces a lot more ideas about how we deal with death and grief as a society, but never really fleshes those thoughts out.Pet Sematary expands the wife’s back story which I found to be an excellent choice.The story arc of Rachel’s character seemed thrown together in the original.

I haven’t read the book, full disclosure.So I don’t know how faithful it is to the book minus our one huge plot change.Stephen King often talks about how he doesn’t like Pet Sematary because he thought the ending was too dark and he wishes he would have written something different.This movie ends on a pretty dang dark note.The 2019 version of Pet Sematary has King’s blessing.He’s a hot property again in the horror genre.Two years ago, IT became the highest grossing R-rated movie ever and ever since that, it’s been a race to adapt as many of King’s novels into big budget movies.Even if they’ve already been made into movies.

We can review a horror movie two ways.First, as a respectable movie just like any other.In that aspect, this just isn’t very good.It’s well made, albeit ineffective.Second way to review a horror movie is as a horror movie, there’s a low body count, but cool special effects.

On a scale of "See It/Stream It/Skip It", I would vote STREAM IT. Not essential viewing, but it's a fun watch. Don't break the bank to get out and see it.

If you liked Pet Sematary (1989), IT, or The Shining you might like Pet Sematary

2.5 out of 5 stars.I saw this movie ten days ago.I still am not sure if I liked it or not.


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