Film review - Pet Sematary

Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer's Pet Sematary is yet another addition to the ongoing Stephen-King-Renaissance, and a creepy one at that!
A scene from Pet SemataryA scene from Pet Sematary
A scene from Pet Sematary

2017 yielded us the wonderful It, which has given me the beautiful memory of seeing my friend jump like a cat on a trampoline at a jump moment; while 2018 gave us Children of the Corn 10, which I didn't know existed until ten-minutes ago - but is now topping my watchlist.

Now 2019 has arrived: with promises of It 2 later in September, and this creepy little gem tiding me over until then.

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This remake follows Dr Creed (a brilliant Jason Clarke) and his family after they move house and discover a supernatural-'Sematary' (whose spelling hurts me on a moral level), that can raise the dead, in the woods surrounding their home, which is used to resurrect a dead cat ... and eventually something even grimmer.

Kolsch and Widmyer's adulation for the tale is clear and their ability to direct horror even clearer, placing the narrative in a darkly-mythic fog of supernatural-war, making it transcend creepy and embody disheartening.

Not due to jump moments, but due to classic suspense and anxiety - with not a minute of breathing-room throughout a moderately long (100 minutes) but seemingly endless run-time, brimming with nightmarish imagery and a whole-bunch of freaky, little, weirdo-satanic-kids.

All this is symbolised by a (not-so-cute) kittie-cat: who serves as an Angel of Death and a harbinger of grief, which is a helluva lot scarier than if he jumped out of a fridge.

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Outside of a stellar performance from Mr Whiskers (who will be snubbed from next year's Oscars), the remainder of the cast kills it - literally and figuratively!

Amy Seimetz is hauntingly vulnerable in her role as the mother, Rachel; while John Lithgow, in all his warmth, acts as a symbol of hope and colour in a world drained of such futile things.

But the real star (outside of the aforementioned Jason Clarke) is Jete Laurence, an inexperienced, young actress who nails the inherent creepiness of the role and is honestly unnerving: so-much-so that I must begrudgingly admit a nine-year-old nearly cost me some sleep... which makes me slightly ashamed but ultimately impressed.

I'm so impressed that a somewhat competent filmmaker has (finally) been handed the keys to a studio-horror film that I'm tempted to gloss over the fiasco that is this story, which is what happens when you kill every modern blockbuster-horror (good start!) and bury them in the 'Pet Sematary' (Uh-oh!) and then they come back deformed (Good Job Writers).

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For all its praises, the narrative and dialogue are rough, and the themes are so overt they make the implied function of a 'Tin Opener' seem vague and mysterious. The story itself is not predictable and I will concede the ending is a stroke of bleakly brilliant genius, but the weakly drawn characters and even weaker pacing make me want to hit it with a shovel.

But hey, it freaked me out nonetheless.

I'm still very hopeful for It 2 (please be good; I want my friend to scream like a six-year-old again), so if this is a symbol of what is to come: sign me up... Or don't, I like being able to sleep ... but do ... because I'd prefer to lose sleep over a creepy cat than watch The Nun ever again.