I am in two minds about this film. On the one hand, despite only having a short 101-minute runtime, it felt much longer because I was in a constantly building state of suspense and tension from start to finish. On the other hand, most of this reaction came down to repeated use of the same jump scare technique.
Pet Sematary comes 30 years after the release of the original film adaptation in 1989, and to be perfectly honest, very little has changed. A new set of actors are in play, and there are a few little changes in the sequence of events (or who does them), but overall, the film follows the exact same strokes as both the previous film and book. The alterations in the story are quite welcome, as the story would have otherwise struggled with 100% predictability. But the writers have changed enough to keep you on your toes, throwing a twist right when you think you know what will happen.
30 years later, and the production values have definitely improved, with some gorgeous environments during the day. I specify during the day because the night scenes are decidedly less convincing. Bathed in blue with smoke and excessive fog, everything looks like it was shot in the studio. Combine that with flickering lights, lightning, and unexplained noises, Pet Sematary is a treasure trove of horror clichés.
There is a rather major change in the plot (which is spoiled in the trailer) and is one of the two decisions that make this film stand out from its predecessor. It allows a greater connection with the family, a slightly deeper conversation about death and mortality, and provides a more significant threat later on.
The acting performances were all pretty damn good as well. Jeté Laurence does an amazing job, originally adorable and lovable before transitioning to something rather unsettling. Jason Clarke goes for a more understated direction, which does prevent the film from getting too hammy, and Amy Seimetz is the most believable performance of the lot, even though her character has a very minimal part to play and no character development.
This 2019 remake of Pet Sematary is nothing exceptional. It follows the same broad strokes of the previous film and source material. It uses foreshadowing extensively alongside a distressed score to bring about cheap jump scares for the sake of tension. But it still entertains. There are certain scenes and actions that are so out of character that they are laughable (literally, people in the audience were chuckling out loud on several occasions), but in general, the film does what it sets out to do; it keeps the viewer engaged, and keeps that heart pumping throughout the film.
From a film studies or critical standpoint, Pet Sematary will have you disappointed by its lack of originality and bland storytelling. But for a general viewer, there is much enjoyment to be had, many scares to laugh about and a cat that has the complete opposite personality to Captain Marvel's Goose.
And of course, Church the cat looks evil as f***.
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