Home Staff Curt Cook Pet Sematary 2019 Movie Review. Why Are We Digging Up The Past

Pet Sematary 2019 Movie Review. Why Are We Digging Up The Past

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In my opinion, the Horror genre is the most difficult genre to use to make a great film. You have to make sure you create suspense and fear without it falling into the realm of comedy. I was very excited to see Pet Sematary after all of the horrifying trailers that were released last year in anticipation for its release. A reimagining of one of Stephen King’s best sellers and according to King, out of all of the novels he has written, this was the one that genuinely scared him the most. I fully expected this film to deliver a proper adaptation to the book that the original film from 1989 didn’t provide. Unfortunately, I was let down and disappointed with the end result. 

Before I go into all of things I didn’t like about this film I want to highlight the things that went right. John Lithgow was a great casting choice to play Jud Crandall. He was able to immerse himself into this lovable creepy character and his performance was the best part about the movie. I also enjoyed the moments of suspense throughout the film. These are the meat and potatoes of what makes horror films fun to watch. They did a good job of quieting the sound track to where you feel like you can hear your own breathing and drawing you into the actions of the characters as they tip toe into the unknown of whats ahead. I also felt like the set design and environments were well thought out and provided a great backdrop to the events unfolding. Unfortunately, these are the only things I found enjoyable about this film.

To me the worst part about this movie was the pacing. The film never seems to find its groove as it moves through time. The movie skips from moment to moment and never allows things to breath or settle before changing to another time and place. This applies to the horror scenes as well. They rely too heavily on the “jump scare” and every horror moment in this film starts off creepy and then SURPRISE, loud noises and fast jump cuts. There are foreshadowing scene cuts with speeding semi trucks that are used three too many times that are loud and obnoxious. I feel like they could have just as easily gotten the same intent with just one of these scenes but they decided they needed to remind the audience too many times that a semi truck is going to cause a problem later in the film. Almost all of the conversation scenes feel rushed and don’t provide enough context to how the characters are feeling. I’m not sure if this was a screenwriting issue, a directorial issue or an editing issue but a lot of the dialogue seems flat and rushed. 

I don’t feel like Matt Greenberg was the right choice in adapting this story into a screenplay. Everything he is credited as a writer on prior to this film is pretty terrible. (Reign of Fire, Seventh Son, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later) None of these movies did well in the box office or with the critics and mostly because the stories were bad. Of course any novel is going to need things changed to be successful in the confines of a 2 hour movie, but the alterations that were made for this movie really made it confusing to watch. My biggest complaint about the writing was the fact that we aren’t provided with any context into John Lithgow’s character. The motivations for the actions he takes are never fleshed out. His confrontations with the dad character is what drives a lot of the story in the novel and we don’t see any of this in the film. The script never gives Lithgow a chance to provide context into the evil power that the Sematary holds, it’s all glazed over with a few short scenes. That being said, Lithgow still does a great job with what he was given, but we as the audience are robbed of what we deserved. 

As I mentioned earlier, horror movies ride a fine line between moments being very scary or falling into comedic nature and this film unfortunately falls into the latter more times than it intends. I saw Pet Sematary in a packed theater and there were a lot of times where full on laughter was ensued because of what was happening on screen. Moments that I believe were intended to cause fear and discomfort played off as silly and defective. 

I feel like this movie ruined any chance for us to get a proper adaptation of the sinister, bone chilling story that is Pet Sematary so I guess we’ll just have to live with the fact it can only be found in the original text. 

Pet Sematary
DIRECTOR: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
STUDIO: Paramount
GENRE: Horror, Suspense
MPAA: R
RELEASE DATE: April 5 2019
AUTHOR: Curt Cook