Pet Sematary (2019)

Pet Sematary
Director: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
Writer: Matt Greenberg, Jeff Buhler
Based on: Stephen King‘s novel
Cast: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine, Maria Herrera
Seen on: 16.4.2019

Content Note: racism, ableism

Louis (Jason Clarke), Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two children Gage (Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie) and Ellie (Jeté Laurence) move to the countryside, hoping to find a calmer life there. What Louis finds instead is an old pet cemetery in the woods behind their house. A cemetery he has soon use for when the family cat Church is hit by a truck. His neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) advises him to bury the cat there, introducing Louis to the power that is buried there.

Pet Sematary is an okay film that profits from the fact that I saw it right after Hellboy and compared to that film, it was fanfuckingtastic. But it definitely would have profited even more if they had updated the story in certain (racist, ableist) regards.

The film poster showing a drawing of a cat. In the cat shape we can see the faces of the main characters. Below them are several cemetery crosses and children.

It has been many years (read: decades) that I read the book and watched the old film, so my memory is hazy, but watching this film, it was suprising to me how much I still remembered of them. Therefore, hats off to this version on giving the film its own spin and departing in quite a few ways from the original, keeping the audience familiar with the story on their toes.

That being said, their update just didn’t go far enough. They kept all that very racist stuff about “the old Native burial ground”, flagranty using Native Americans and their cultures as props, in the worst way. They do include one Black character – only to make him a literally magic warning sign for the white family. And the backstory with Rachel’s sister is just pure ableism. Those things would have needed a reworking much more than how the story develops.

A very disheveled cat sitting in the middle of the road.

That being said, the film is well-made enough that it works all the way through. The pacing is good, the cast is fine and there are a couple of very interesting visuals. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot less if it hadn’t followed a catastrophe of a film in my program that day, but sometimes it is good to be reminded that a mediocre film is not the same as a bad film. I definitely enjoyed Pet Sematary, even if it won’t enter of my personal halls of fame.

Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Jud (John Lithgow) in the pet cemetery.

Summarizing: it’s fine.

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