"Pet Sematary Two" Review
Pet Sematary Two begins with one of the oldest narrative tricks in the book. We see a beautiful woman in a long dress walking down the steps of an old castle. When approaching an old coffin, a rotten hand tries to grab her. What the fuck is going on?
We're now in a movie set. We're watching a day in the life of actress Renee Hallow (Darlanne Fluegel). Her son Jeff Matthews (Edward Furlong) accompanies her on set. It's clear that the relationship between the two is fantastic. Renee is separated from Jeff's father, but the future looks bright for this family. Renee and Chase Matthews (Anthony Edwards) have decided to give their marriage a second chance. Jeff, of course, is thrilled.
But Jeff's smile fades almost immediately. In the next shot, a short-circuit ends up electrocuting his poor mother. The woman suffers savagely for minutes before finally dying. Let the trauma begin.
Days later, Dr. Chase Matthews decides to move with his son Jeff out of Los Angeles, to try a fresh start. Chase, a veterinarian, opts for the rural town of Ludlow, Maine. Of course, there are no traces of the Creed family, other than a brief mention of their "weird" tragedy.
Adaptation isn't easy. Jeff finds a friend in Drew (Jason McGuire), but has to endure the inclement bullying of Clyde Parker (Jared Rushton) and his gang, which includes constant humiliation about his mother's death.
Little Drew has his own problems at home. His mother (Lisa Waltz) has remarried with the local sheriff, Gus (Clancy Brown) and this new stepfather is hell. Gus doesn't stop trying to have him in an authoritarian military regime, which includes cruel restrictions on his pet dog Zowie.
Zowie is, in fact, the reason why Jeff and Drew end up having contact with the iconic Micmac burial ground. In a violent authoritarian outburst, Gus kills Zowie with a gunshot. Jeff and Drew decide to bury the dog in the mythical place to see if the legend is true.
Zowie comes back to life, and, as is tradition, he's back with creepier eyes and a more violent attitude. Upon a medical examination, Dr. Matthews can't understand how the dog doesn't register a heartbeat.
On Halloween night, Sheriff Gus becomes especially irrational and violent towards good Drew after finding him late at night in a get-together with some friends. Zowie "saves" the night, coming out of nowhere and killing Gus by tearing his neck.
And, of course, what is the reaction of Jeff and Drew to the horrible incident? To bury psycho Gus in the Micmac burial ground, so he can return to life and then they can avoid any consequences. Flawless logic.
Of course, zombie Gus becomes the most creepy and unstable antagonist of the story. Like all Pet Sematary undead, Gus exhibits human behavior, but his personality has undoubtedly mutated into something more enigmatic, dark and creepy.
At first, he seemed to be an ally of Jeff and Drew. But when he ends up destroying the face of bully Clyde with an on-going motorcycle wheel, it's clear that Gus is more bloodthirsty than ever.
Pet Sematary Two suffers greatly from not having Stephen King in the project. All the characters are way too one-dimensional and have zero development. The bad guys don't have a backstory or motives, only a cruel, irredeemable, stupid and cheap behavior so that we can easily sympathize with the "too-perfect-victims" heroes.
However, this sequel offers enough violent and creepy moments to be a fun time at the movies. The direction of Lambert is still full of great choices that make the film stay with us a little longer than it should.
The casting is, once again, a success. Edward Furlong came from his success in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and his sad and somber personality fit perfectly into this depressing universe. However, Clancy Brown is the show-stealer, with a dark and imposing presence that makes him a formidable villain.
What's Your Rating For Pet Sematary Two?
Pet Sematary Two also suffers from a constant focus change. Sometimes, the story seems to belong to Jeff. Then, for a large portion, attention revolves around Drew and his horrible relationship with his stepdad Gus, and Jeff becomes a secondary character. Then, like remembering its first minutes, the film presents two new lead antagonist in the last sequence (zombie bully Clyde and Ghost Mom please stand up!) So the Matthews's tale can actually have an ending. It's kind of a mess.
Mary Lambert's original idea was to put Ellie Creed, the sole survivor of the first film, as the protagonist of this sequel. However, Paramount executives didn't believe that a teenage actress could lead a story because of sexism. So they completely discarded that idea and created new characters (all men, obviously) for part two.
Serves them right. Stephen King had his name removed from the film, the box office was a failure and the critics destroyed it.
And although Pet Sematary Two is still an entertaining movie with its many flaws, one cannot help but dream and miss Mary Lambert's original plan.
Title: Pet Sematary Two / Pet Sematary II
Release Year: 1992
Director(s): Mary Lambert
Actors: Edward Furlong, Anthony Edwards, Clancy Brown, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards