Pet Semetary Gets Re-Animated
Pet Sematary | Directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer | Horror | R | 1 H 41 MIN
Written by Nicole Betts
I went into the Pet Semetary remake with the original film fresh on my mind, knowing literally anything will be better than that mess, or, so I thought. This was not a bad movie by any means, it just wasn’t great. It did beat the astronomically low standard of the original movie at least, though. I will reiterate, that low production quality was NOT a high bar to pass and it just barely did. Honestly, this re-make felt lack luster, many scenes deader than the subject of the movie. Despite some truly gorgeous cinematography, it felt like the movie was holding our hand and directing us through the plot rather than showing and immersing us in it. Even the beautifully shot slow treks through the woods felt cheapened by the slowness of it all, the attempts to make it dangerous and creepy and mysterious failed and boredom took its place. Steven King’s original novel is one of the bleakest and creepiest in my opinion. The sense of dread and fear, the way every fiber of your is screaming “Stop! Don’t open that door!” that was felt when reading the novel was lost in this film. I did get scared, but the scares felt cheap. It relied heavily on jump scares, and due to this, the dread that was built was not due to the subject matter but because we knew something was going to pop out. I wasn’t thinking “don’t open that door because you’ll die!”, but rather “don’t open that door because I know something will pop out and I don’t want to jump”. The same jump scare was used twice, and though it was decent foreshadowing to a pinnacle moment later on in the film, it felt cheap and I was more angry that it managed to scare me. The greatest downfall of this movie is the main plot of the film, re-animating the dead into something sinister, was less scary than the cheap jump scares they used. I didn’t feel a sense of fear and dread, I wasn’t locked in my seat, desperately wanting to scream at the characters to stop. Rather, I was scared for the next jump scare, knowing it was coming and dreading it.
A great horror film leaves the danger up to the imagination, allowing the audience to dream up things far more terrifying than anything a movie could ever show. By keeping us in the dark about the identity of the danger, we can run wild with it. This movie did not do this. So many fun plot points were hinted and waved at us from afar, yet no attempt was made to make them enticing. What should have been, and honestly is, a major plot point (and honestly the scariest part of the film for someone who lives in the woods) was hinted and then forgotten completely. (I don’t want to say exactly what this is in the interest of keeping this spoiler free, but if you know evil creatures that live in the woods, you know what I’m talking about). The reason the dead can be reanimated, why they come back the way they do, and the danger that comes with the whole cemetery was never explained properly, and it was a let down. We don’t want a film to explain every single detail, especially in a horror film, but they spoke so vaguely about it I lost interest. The movie clearly didn’t want me to focus on that aspect, so I didn’t. Or if they did want me to wonder and want more, they failed.
The acting by Jeté Laurence was easily the best part of this movie, despite being such a young girl, she was incredible. She sold the character for me, she was the daughter of this family and I was here for it. I adored whenever she was on screen because I didn’t feel she was a kid acting in a movie, instead, she was a young girl living in this world. I always get worried whenever I see a film has child actors, so many times I can see the actor playing a character and it’s disappointing. That is what made this so sweet, because never once did she pull me out of the story. This isn’t to say the other actors were bad, John Lithgow did a spectacular job (though I have major grievances with his character and how he was written), but there is just something special about when a child actor does a great job doing their job. Also, the animal actor for the family cat Church held a special place in my heart, they did such a good job being the mean old dead kitty.
This movie was a step up from the original, it felt more like a genuine horror film that attempted to read the book as in-depth as a high schooler does for a book report. It was skimmed, and the basic plot chunks were taken, but no time or care was given to the sense of dread and fear King created. Did I hate this? No, and I could even say I enjoyed parts of it. Yet I was left wanting more, and not in the way filmmakers want. I was left wanting more time and care to be put into this film, I was left wanting the dread and creepiness over the cheap jump scares. To quote the infamous Jud, and I wish the filmmakers had taken this to heart before re-animating this dead plot, that, sometimes, dead is better.
Watch the Official Trailer Below