Benjamin Wollmuth is a lover of literature who enjoys sharing his thoughts on everything from movies and video games to books and music.
The newest Stephen King adaptation has arrived! Not only is it an adaptation of the novel, but it is also a remake of the 1989 film by the same name. Before I start, I just want to let you know that in order to aid in my explanations of why I liked or disliked different aspects of the film, I will be comparing this film to the 1989 original. I will be talking spoilers for this movie and the original... you have been warned.
Pet Sematary is not very good. I am a huge horror fan, so I was really looking forward to this film. Yet, to me, the film falls flat with it's weird changes to the original story, as well as with its big push for jump scares. Even with all of its changes, the film fails to be anything different.
I am going to talk briefly about the characters because I will be talking about a lot of them later when I talk about the choices the film made. I will say that I had no issues with any of the acting in the film. Jason Clarke is a great actor... I just have issues with his character that I will get into later. John Lithgow also does a remarkable job, as usual... but once again, I have some issues with his character. So, let's not hesitate. Let's get into this.
This movie follows the same plot as the book and the original film but makes some huge changes along the way. While I don't find it scary, I very much enjoy the Pet Sematary of 1989. It was a fun time and very well acted, with decisions that made sense. The screenplay for that film was written by Stephen King, so it made sense that it stayed close to the book. The Pet Sematary of 2019, however, is not written by Stephen King... and you can really tell. Firstly, the characters seem to have different motivations. Instead of Louis feeling like a man with tons of grief over the loss of his cat and his kid, this movie makes him seem like he has more sinister motives. When his daughter is brought back to life, he tries forcing his wife to accept her, even when he knows how creepy the whole thing is. Jud even seems to be a lot more intense in this movie than he was in the original. Secondly, the older daughter is killed rather than the younger son. This is a change I can sort of understand, but it gets worse. Way worse.
I feel that writers decided to kill Ellie, the daughter, to make things more creepy. She's older, so she understands the world more than Gage (the son). Yet, the writers were wrong. I think that the boy is a lot creepier in the original film than the girl is in this one. They try to make it more intense, but for me, it doesn't work. Ellie just has some really cringy dialogue and then decides to kill everyone who doesn't accept the fact that she's alive again. Stretching out that intense scene took me out of the film.
There's another aspect of this film that I didn't enjoy. This movie relies too much on jump scares! It tries to build intensity but fails. So, they go for another route: jump scares! It felt like just another horror movie. There was nothing special about it. They didn't try to do anything different. Just jump scare, after jump scare, after jump scare! Good horror movies don't need jump scares to be scary. This movie must have realized it wasn't good.
The biggest jump scare issue I had was with Rachel (the mom) and her dead sister. Towards the beginning of the movie, she tells a story to Louis about her sister that had spinal meningitis, rendering her almost immovable. Long story short, her sister dies and she blames herself for it. The writers could have stopped there. They gave us a reason for why Rachel is afraid of death and that's all they needed to do. Yet, they kept bringing the sister back in weird visions that Rachel had... in order to have more jump scares. That's at least what it felt like for me because they didn't add anything to the plot at all.
The ending was the part of the film that really made me decide that I didn't like this film too much. The ending to the original film, to me, made sense. This ending was just dumb. Undead Ellie crosses the street to kill Jud. She then comes back home to kill her mother. After killing her mother, she takes the body to the cemetery in order to bury her and turn her into another undead monster. Louis locks Gage in the car and chases after Ellie. After confronting Ellie and almost winning, he is stabbed in the back by his now undead wife. We then see the entire undead family walking towards Gage in the locked car, presumably planning on making him undead, too.
The ending to the original film and the book is so good because Louis feels he could try one last time to make things better for him. So, he brings his dead wife back to life... but she kills him. I don't need to see an undead family living on to do God-knows-what. I get it... they wanted it to be more intense. Well, I am sorry... it didn't work.
I don't hate everything about his movie... I just dislike a lot of the changes made in the film. They tried to be really intense and scary by adding jump scares, but it didn't work. In all honesty, I would rather watch the original. At least that movie was more tight with its plot threads and intensity. I am going to give Pet Sematary (2019) a 5/10.
© 2019 Benjamin Wollmuth