"Pet Sematary" Review
At first, Pet Sematary seems like it could be a clever commentary on death, eternal rest, and related thematic elements. It has the makings of something potentially interesting. It abandons all of that for cheap horror movie tropes and spirals downward into quite a dumpster fire. Particularly in the second half, the movie takes a complete nosedive with almost no redemptive qualities to cushion its fall.
It has discernible hints of something that was clearly adapted from a novel, but there are things that simply do not translate well from a printed work to the big screen. In the film, the story features not a lot of “there there,” and the plot is rather scrappy and skeletal. It either provides a perfunctory response to the questions and moral quandaries it proposes, or it seeks to address/answer none of them. Stephen King must be curling his lip at the lackadaisical approach that filmmakers are taking to bring his books to life. I know he was not a fan of The Shining even though it registered in the public consciousness as an iconic horror classic, so I can’t imagine the contempt he feels for this movie. Although, he is cashing checks, so I suppose he can’t be too scornful.
Pet Sematary is at the height of its powers when it employs some of its Cronenberg body horror aesthetics. It is gruesome to watch, and I found myself cringing at every scene with that in it. It manages to do some jump scares effectively; however, many of them were eye-roll inducing and offered nothing novel to the horror scene. It tries to construct a spooky atmosphere, but the establishing set pieces and scenic backdrops just look like bad CGI. It is also tonally a mess, and it can’t seem to find its footing regarding what it wants to do and achieve.
Perhaps one of the greatest flagrant flaws in this movie is the hammed up performance of the child actor at the center. Much of the film relies and even revolves around the daughter of this family, and although I don’t want to pin the entirety of this movie’s foundering on this kid, I can’t critique the movie without at least referencing her. Good child actors are seldom found for some reason, and the filmmakers apparently asked too much of this young, inchoate actor. None of the other cast members were particularly Oscar-worthy, not even the great John Lithgow, who even with his pedigree cannot save this film.
Overall, the movie skates on the rails of cheap thrills to excite its viewers, and although I don't believe it qualifies as completely meritless, it doesn't have enough substance to elevate its slapdash, thinly developed script to something I could watch again or recommend a friend to.
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© 2019 Logan Daniel Williamson