PET SEMATARY. Directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer with Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence and Hugo and Lucas Lavoie.

Pet Sematary review


In theory I’m not a huge fan of remakes – why not do something entirely new, instead of repeating old material? – but I have to admit there’ve been a couple of smokin’ makeovers I’ve enjoyed.  Psycho springs to mind, also Hairspray, and of course, Carrie. And now another Stephen King reboot (Carrie being one of his classics), in the form of the creepy Pet Sematary.

The plot is, in a way, also a kind of rehash. In 1902 W.W. Jacobs wrote a short story called The Monkey’s Paw, and there’s definite bell-ringing when it comes to aspects of the Pet Sematary narrative. But hey ho – it’s done well in this 2019 version, so I’m not going to go any further and spoil the suspense for first-time viewers.

It all kicks off when the Creed family move to the Maine countryside in search of a quieter lifestyle. The father, Louis (Jason Clarke) is a doctor, the mother Rachel, (Amy Seimetz) takes care of the house and kids, Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (alternated by Hugo and Lucas Lavoie). When they first arrive they spot a procession of children in masks, carrying a dead dog to be buried in their local “pet sematary”. Their neighbour, Jud (John Lithgow) tells Louis a little more about the spot – as well as the secret burial grounds that lie beyond.

Things start to go bad when Ellie’s adorable cat Church has an accident. I won’t say any more, because it’ll be such a bummer for those who want to get scared by the movie. But suffice it to know that there are quite a few moments when you will definitely scream, and the ick factor is satisfactorily high.

The main cast does a fine job of pretending to be a traditional nuclear family who happen to suffer a couple of bad blows, and while directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer rely a fair amount on jump scares, this is just dandy as far as I’m concerned. In all, this Pet Sematary is easy on the eye and the fear factor is just what you want from a horror story. What sets it apart from its predecessor is that there are significant changes to the script in terms of the order of death that occurs. Which makes for a cool finish, I reckon.

A pleasingly creepy outing. Oh, and take note – you may find yourself looking at your cat in a different light, after this …

What: Pet Sematary film review

Where: Ster-Kinekor cinemas