Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is regarded by King himself as his most frightening book. Reportedly inspired by the near-death experience of his son, Pet Sematary is a morbid story of grief and loss that even King thought was too dark to publish, only doing so to conclude his contractual obligations to Doubleday, the publisher of his early books.
Arriving in cinemas 30 years after the last film adaptation, Pet Sematary is a solid effort from directors Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch. The film follows the Creeds, Louis (Jason Clarke), Rachel (Amy Seimetz), Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (Hugo Lavoie), and their move from Boston to the rural town Ludlow, Maine. After the family’s beloved cat, Church, is hit by a truck, their new neighbour Jud (John Lithgow) shows Louis a supernatural burial ground, which has the power to resurrect those buried in its soil, but the consequences are horrific. As the family’s world spirals into darkness, the Creeds will learn sometimes dead is better.
Whilst the film is a morbid and hopeless endeavour that delves into themes of death, the pain of loss and the all-consuming power of grief, the film is laced with a sick sense of humour which provides some much-needed levity.
The characters are all immensely likeable and their pain is easy to relate to. After all, death is universal and we all must confront it at some point. The violence and gore is masterfully done with superb practical effects with a scene depicting Jud’s Achilles tendon being sliced open getting a very vocal reaction from the audience I saw the film with. Its excessive use of jump-scares, however, is obnoxious and the score is forgettable.
Pet Sematary is a grief-stricken tale that will likely satisfy most Stephen King fans, despite a few deviations from the source material.
Reviewed by Jordan Ellis.
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