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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: "Pet Sematary" is a story that doesn't deserve resurrection

Apr 04, 2019 06:02PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Pet Sematary - © 2019 Paramount Pictures.

Pet Sematary (Paramount)

Rated R for horror violence, bloody images, and some language.

Starring Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Sonia Maria Chirila, Maria Herrera.

Written by Jeff Buhler and Matt Greenberg, based on the novel "Pet Sematary" by Stephen King.

Directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer.



Creepy is as creepy does. I’m not a big fan of Stephen King’s horror story film adaptations since they usually lean on “unknown evil” entities more than real human experiences. On the other hand, King’s other non-horror exceptions, most notably Stand by Me, Shawshank Redemption, Misery, Dolores Claiborne, and The Green Mile are some of my favorite films and have received their due acclaim from critics and audiences. King’s filmography and authorship span four decades, including hundreds of credits for scripts, stories, and novels. I think being so prolific has its drawbacks, with many opportunities to a) be repetitive or b) venture into some creepy side streets that offer little appeal, other than a few jump scares and gore. A Pet Sematary remake might have been a better idea if the source material didn’t feel like “just another” King creep show, but here we are.

 Jason Clarke plays Louis Creed, a Boston doctor who moves his family to a rustic home in the woods (assumedly in New Hampshire, Vermont or Maine, since it seems all Stephen King stories happen there) to get away from city life. Louis’ wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) carries with her dark memories of her deformed sister’s death when she as a child. Louis and Rachel’s daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) soon discovers some strange happenings in the woods near the home, where kids in creepy animal masks bury dead pets in the “Pet Sematary,” engaging in strange rituals. Ellie also meets and befriends the family’s only neighbor Jud (John Lithgow), who knows the secret powers of the woods. When the family’s cat “Church” is killed by a passing truck, Jud suggests that Louis bury the animal in a remote area adjacent to the “Sematary” that possesses magical powers to resurrect the dead. The plan works, and Church returns, albeit with a new mean streak.


>>Spoilers follow<<


Louis tries to get rid of the cat by dropping it off miles away, but Ellie is killed by a truck as Church returns home and she tries to grab the cat from the highway in front of the home. Overcome with grief, Louis digs up Ellie’s body and reburies her in the haunted woods. When Ellie comes back to life, she isn’t the sweet little girl Louis and Rachel once knew, and she sets out to kill everyone, including her little brother Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie).

That’s pretty much it, and Pet Sematary ends on kind of a bummer. I don’t mind open-ended stories, but I like them more when they offer some kind of chance for redemption. Pet Sematary is an exercise in futility in the face of evil. It isn’t an evil worth investigation, nor does it offer anything more than those affirmed jump scares, gore, and creepiness.

So basically, the cat hisses, blood is spilled, and we don’t learn anything, with the possible exception of “don’t go into the woods.”


Pet Sematary is a film that shouldn’t have been resurrected. As stated in the film, “Sometimes, dead is better,” and this is one movie that should have stayed dead.


"Pet Sematary" Trailer