In this age of sequels and reboots, it was no surprise to hear “Pet Sematary” was being revived. Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, “Pet Semetary” follows the Creed family as they leave behind the hectic city life of Boston for a rural town in Maine. What they find out is Maine’s wilderness is anything but relaxing.
For those of us who have seen the original 1989 version directed by Mary Lambert, this film is one giant bait-and-switch. Without giving too much away, there were several times where I found myself expecting the new film to follow directly in the original’s footprints, only to have the rug pulled out from under me. It was as if the writers were screaming “Look! We’re not just making another remake!” While I am all for new and original ideas I am against mangling a story just for the sake of being different.
Relying heavily on jump scares the 2019 film failed to create the eerie atmosphere of the original and felt more like a modern cookie-cutter horror movie. With long, drawn-out walks in the woods dominating most of the film, there appeared to be too much of a focus on building tension and not enough time relieving that tension in a satisfying way.
That being said, there were some redeeming qualities as well, mostly in the performances of Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed and John Lithgow as Jud Crandall respectively. Jud seems more down to earth in this version of the film and his motivations are made clear as opposed to the 1989 iteration, where the character is more enigmatic and unrelatable. However, nothing will compare to Miko Hughes’s gage from 1989 that gave me nightmares for days.
In the end, the new “Pet Sematary” is a shell of the classic Stephen King story exhumed and brought back for the modern trend of reboots and sequels, though it should have been left to rest. In the words of Jud Crandell himself, sometimes dead is better.