“Pet Sematary,” is a remake of the 1989 film in which doctor Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) and his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), moves their two young children into a secluded house in the woods to escape their busy lives in the city. During their stay in their new home, they come across a friendly elderly man in the woods named Jud. When the family cat dies, Jud recommends to Louis to bury their cat in the pet cemetery deep in the woods. The father is surprised to see the cat alive and well in their daughter’s bed the next morning. However, tragedy continues to follow their family. Soon after the revival of their beloved family pet, their young daughter, Ellie (Jeté Laurence), is killed in a freak accident. With the memories of the pet sematary in the back of his mind, Louis plans to defy fate itself to keep his family together.
Pet Sematary, while a genius idea for an excellent horror movie, could not have been executed more poorly in this 2019 remake. This horror movie has little to no actual horror in it. The cast is the only good part of this movie even though the story they are forced to act out is confusing. The purpose of a remade movie is to expand upon the lore of the previous film and create a more memorable movie than its predecessor, something this movie failed to do. The movie, despite being in the horror genre, had all but two well placed jumpscares that truly caught the audience off guard. While the movie has macabre elements and a chilling atmosphere created by its special effects, it still fails to provide good horror. The only harrowing moments in the film do not even include the zombie like creatures that the movie is centered around.
The only saving grace for the movie are the moments where Amy Seimetz character, Rachel, is on screen. Rachel is a complex character, torn between her past and trying to better her children’s future. Rachel fears telling her daughter the truth of the death of her beloved pet out of fear that she will be traumatized as she was when her older sister passed. Her older sister, Zelda, suffered from a spinal condition that rendered her basically immobile. Their parents made Rachel her servant, and demanded she tend to Zelda’s every need. Zelda turned hostile and bitter due to her condition and constantly threatened and bullied her little sister. One day, in an attempt to avoid her sister, Rachel used the dumbwaiter to deliver her sister’s dinner. In a freak accident, Zelda fell down the dumbwaiter shaft and was mangled and crushed on impact. Rachel tries to forgive herself for her sister’s death, while also facing the overwhelming decisions on how to spare her children from experiencing the same traumatic events she did.
Seimetz did an amazing job portraying the role of the mother in this movie. She portrayed a character haunted by her past, but who could still be the supportive, loving mother her children needed. Another actor who saved this movie was John Lithgow, who portrayed the character Jud. Jud lost his wife to cancer years before the Creed’s ever moved in, and by some coaxing from Ellie, ventures out of his comfort zone to reconnect with the world. When Louis begins to form the idea of burying Ellie in the pet sematary, Jud confesses that he thought it would bring back his wife. Yet when he buried his wife, she came back changed and he eventually was forced to kill her. Jud brings the more emotional scenes to the movie as we get to see him grieving not only for the loss of his wife, but for the loss of his new friends.
While the cast is amazing, the movie’s real downfall is the ending. The movie follows the same pacing and plot line of the first film, but differentiated themselves by killing off Ellie instead of her little brother Gage, who is the first to die in the original. This is confusing to the audience because it had absolutely no effect on the plot. It still followed the same path as the original, up until the end, where they tried to add their own spin on the cliffhanger ending. Instead of everyone dying gruesome deaths and it ending there, the movie ended with Ellie murdering Rachel and burying her in the sematary. As Louis tries to hunt down Ellie, he learns that she is not who he thinks she is. In the original, it hinted that the living dead had their souls turned evil due to the effects of the sematary, while this movie hints that Ellie is another creature entirely in a little girl’s body. When Louis attempted to kill Ellie, Rachel came back in time to stop him and ended up killing and burying him as well. The last scene shows Gage, who was locked in a car to keep him safe from harm, looking out the window to see his family approaching him from the forest. The screen goes black and the last sound is the unlocking of the car’s door.
The ending leaves to many questions for it to be a satisfying cliffhanger like in the original. Viewers are left wondering the motivations of Ellie and why she would want to build an army of the undead or why they would attempt to harm Gage when he is to young to be of use to anyone. The original movie ended with Louis losing his whole family, and when he attempted to bring back his wife as a last resort, the movie fades to black, with Rachel holding a knife. This insinuates the ending that Rachel kills Louis and she is the only survivor of the ordeal. The new ending doesn’t make sense, nor does it build upon the lore of the movies.
This movie did nothing to build upon the original, and followed the storyline exactly, all the way up to ending, which was distasteful and confusing. The only thing that makes the movie worth watching is the emotional performance from the cast, but even then the story they are forced to act out is unoriginal. While this movie is still playing in theatres, viewers are better off watching the original which is available on streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, ITunes, Youtube, and Google Play.