After the success of It, it’s no wonder studios are scrambling to re-adapt more of Stephen King’s work. Pet Sematary has enough gruesome, dark content to potentially have audiences hiding under the covers long after the credits roll. Unfortunately, this adaptation feels a tad like it’s been run over, leaving only a slight smear on the tarmac of our minds.
Moving out to the countryside with his family, surgeon Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) is expecting a slower, more relaxed lifestyle, until the family become aware of a pet cemetery nearby (spelled “sematary” by some pesky kids who can’t seem to spell) that sets off a chain of horrifying events.
What makes the concept of Pet Sematary so scary, and what made Hereditary so terrifying, is the feeling of haunting being extremely personal – a loved one becoming a threat is, in theory, way scarier than an unknown boogeyman with no backstory. But as much as Pet Sematary tries to set up its concept in the opening half of the film, its characters and relationships just feel too cookie-cutter and impersonal to have the effect that this type of story demands as the second act unfolds.
As much as the cast (which includes a wayward John Lithgow as neighbour Jud Crandall) try to amp up the fear surrounding the story, there’s just not enough to work with to make it a truly chilling experience. Sure, there are moments that make the skin crawl, especially involving Rachel Creed’s childhood that continues to hang over her, but much of what is supposed to be scary is nothing that hasn’t been done before.
Although it brings occasional jump scares, Pet Sematary struggles to identify what makes its ideas so terrifying, ending up as an uninspiring, conventional horror.
CAST: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Lawrence
DIRECTORS: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
WRITERS: Matt Greenberg, Jeff Buhler (screenplay), Stephen King (novel)
SYNOPSIS: Dr Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.