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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Review: Pet Sematary (2019)

Director: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer
Screenplay: Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler
Year: 2019

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.

Every time a new remake pops up, it is inevitable to compare it to the previous version. We always want to see how alike and how different one is from the other. This is even worse when the movie is based on a novel, as there are more points of comparison. This was the case with “It: Chapter One”, another novel adaptation from the mythical horror writer Stephen King. In the case of “It: Chapter One” we saw how, without going too far away from the most important events from the novel, it created its own identity, very different to the miniseries released on 1990, with a much darker tone and a more horrific Pennywise.

In the case of “Pet Sematary”, something similar as in “It: Chapter One” happens. Even though it feeds from the original, released in 1989 and from the novel, it created its own identity. This is no easy task, as the previous version of the movie is a classic among horror fans even when it did not receive the best reviews in its time, and the novel is one of the most recognized works of King. Where this new version of “Pet Sematary” escapes a little from this pressure is by targeting a younger audience that will probably not know these previous works.

Having said this, “Pet Sematary” was for me a complete letdown. After many months of rumors, a massive promotion and positive reviews from people that seem like they have never seen a horror movie assuring that it is a masterpiece of horror cinema, it is needless to say that expectations were high. Except for some moments and visuals, ”Pet Sematary” is just another average movie that will do good at the box office more because of an effective promotion campaign rather than by its quality.

It is frustrating to see how they managed to get a great cast, but the story gives them nothing interesting to do and this talent is wasted. Except for Jeté Laurence (“The Snowman”) in her interpretation of Ellie, who is by far the most interesting character, it is hard to even remember the names of the rest of the characters and even harder to care for them. The rest of the story follows that trend: flat and everything feels forcefully put together

Much of the promotion for this movie was done around the cat Church, but he is not well utilized. His look makes you think that he is an evil cat and that he will have part in some horrific acts, but he never does anything out of what can be considered normal behavior for a cat. Similarly, although the ambient is well crafted, the moments of horror and jump scares do not feel fluid, and they come out of nowhere, betting for a surprise factor rather than for an effective build up. Something that is done well is to reward those that have followed King’s work teasing the iconic scenes of the 1988 version and putting some Easter eggs about other works from the author.

“Pet Sematary” offered a lot more than what it ultimately delivered. The trailer reveals a lot of the most important events, especially for those who have not seen the previous version or read the novel, who will have gotten into this movie without knowing these important events have the trailers not reveal them and they lose effectiveness. The plot in its majority feels forced, and the horror elements do not work as they were supposed to. Since early in the movie a dark tone is established that later is not properly used. Even when it has its graphics and impactful moments, in ensemble it is just a barely entertaining movie.

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