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  Pet Sematary That Darn Cat
Year: 2019
Director: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
Stars: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Lawrence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Maria Herrera, Frank Schorpion, Linda E. Smith, Sonia Maria Chirila, Naomi Frenette, Suzi Stingl, Kelly Lee, Nina Lauren
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Creed family have moved into their new home in rural Maine, which looks very inviting as they pull up to it in their car, though as they are about to enter it a huge tanker truck rushes by on the nearby main road, giving them a start. Dad Louis (Jason Clarke) is a doctor and will be taking up a position at the university there, while his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) will be staying at home to look after the two kids, almost-ten Ellie (Jeté Lawrence) and toddler Gage (Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie). But Ellie notices a procession of mask-wearing children walking past their house, along a path into the woods, and on following finds a pet cemetery. Beyond that - well, let's not go there.

But of course they will go there or there would be no story, in this case the second adaptation of the Stephen King bestseller that he famously did not want to publish because he found it so disturbing. It was certainly a story that came from, and indeed went to, very grim places, but while the 1989 version had its fans, mostly from those who saw it at perhaps too young an age, it was by no means the finest film to be made from a King work, so there was room for improvement. On the other hand, you may wonder what there was to gain by translating such a bleak effort to the screen other than to profit off the name of the world-famous author; it did not exactly scream "Remake me!"

But these were the twenty-tens when the King brand had enjoyed a renaissance in film and television, so his properties were once again being snapped up, or even ripped off, left, right and centre, all trying to capture that surprisingly elusive quality from the page. With this Pet Sematary, they gave it a good try, yet were moved to change the plot in the second half in such a manner that had you pondering they might have been better off attempting something original rather than hitch their wagon to King. He did not mind at all, going on record as saying he had no problem with this adaptation and its alterations, but the fans predictably were less than pleased. Justifiably?

The themes of the primal need to protect your family and the horror that erupts when that does not work out, that fear of the worst kind of failure, were present as before, so you could regard this as faithful as far as that went. If you were being a little more unkind, you could also observe Clarke and Seimetz were very much the non-A List castings that the first film had hired, and though they did not do anything particularly wrong, they were not really the most starry couple to grace a horror movie, though maybe they were not meant to be. The biggest name in this case was John Lithgow, playing the oldtimer Jud who lives next door and introduces Louis to the burial ground beyond the woods that has magical qualities, handy for bringing back Ellie's beloved dead cat Church, after he is run over by one of those damned trucks.

Even if you were unaware of the original plot, you would be able to discern an impending doom from such broad hints as the student (Obssa Achmed) who dies in his surgery after being, yes, run over (vehicular death was big in this story), or Rachel's flashbacks to her dead sister who hated her for being healthy while she was dying. All very ominous, and taken from the text, but the changes did take this in another direction, not exactly a zombie movie of which there had been a glut over the past twenty years, but not far off either. That this chose to climax with a great big fight as if it was a superhero movie made it as indicative of its cinematic times as the '89 effort had been of its decade, and the jump scare-heavy arrangement served to merely make the movie irritatingly loud instead of actually scary. The King novel, like it or not (and it is a difficult book to wholly endorse), did get under the skin of the reader. It was unlikely this incarnation would have the same effect. Music by Christopher Young.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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