Review by J.T. Johnson
The worst thing that I can say about any horror movie is that it was boring. I usually don’t fault horror films for much else. They’re usually made on a budget, so I know that they’re not going to be the most polished films in the world and I want to see how the filmmakers deal with these limited challenges. Also, the scripts are usually handled by up and coming screenwriters who are cutting their teeth on their earliest projects, so they’re not going to have very much except a basic structure, but maybe they’ll have clearly defined moral themes or social commentary.
“Pet Sematary” is a moderately budgeted horror film from a major studio, this being Paramount Studios. It not only acts as an adaptation of a Stephen King story, but as a remake of an original adaptation released in 1989. It has better acting performances than what was found in the original, to be sure, but I’m afraid it suffers from being a boring film overall.
In this adaptation, Jason Clarke plays Louis Creed, a father who needs to get away from the big city of Boston. He takes his family, which includes his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), 9-year-old daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and 2-year-old Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), to a small town in Maine where he not only got a nice house in the country, but it also contains a vast forest in his backyard.
Eventually, the family learns from local Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), that there was a cemetery in the forest called “Pet Sematary” by the townspeople. This is a place where kids take their dead pets and give them a proper burial. Behind this location in the woods, though, is a more secluded area where you can bury something recently deceased and it will come back from the grave.
This happens at first to the family’s cat Church. Jud helps Louis bury the cat and it returns, but it is more violent and definitely not the same cat as before. After a tragedy occurs to Ellie, though, Louis takes matters into his own hands and something worse comes back out of the woods because, as Jud says in the film, “Sometimes dead is better.”
The movie’s final act is where things pick up and I can say that there is one or two suspenseful moments in this part of the film. The problem is that the lead up to the film’s ultimate conclusion is a drag. It’s mostly filled with repetitive foreshadowing where I wanted to shout, “I get it! Something bad is about to happen with a truck!”
The other problem with this portion of the film is that it also seems hellbent at changing things from both the novel and the original film just to throw viewers who had either read the novel or seen the original film off the story’s scent. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the changes actually made sense and were clever, but you can painfully tell that the changes were made just to try and do something different.
Sadly, this is a remake that is neither necessary or really all that scary. So, calling back to what I wrote above, “Pet Sematary” suffers from that ultimate horror movie sin: being boring.