Pet Sematary (Kevin Kölsch/Dennis Widmyer, 2019, USA/Canada)

The latest adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Sematary sat in development hell for several years, with at one point George Clooney being considered for the lead role. It took the success of Andy Muschietti's It to awaken studio heads again to the King brand, and this led to the greenlighting of several stalled King projects. Directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, most notable for their 2014 indie debut horror feature Starry Eyes, were given the director's chair, to work from a story by Matt Greenberg and a screenplay by Jeff Buhler.

For the first two-thirds of the film, Pet Sematary follows remarkably closely to the novel. The directors dispense with many of the more campy or eccentric flourishes of the first film, instead playing the novel deadly straight. Strangely, Paramount decided to expose the film's central twist in one of the film's trailers. Instead of the younger Creed child Gage getting hit by the truck, here we have the older Creed daughter Ellie being resurrected. Given the limitations of working with a very young actor, there is some value to be had in changing the victim. The best moments of the film involve Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) attempting to bond with his zombie daughter.

Where Pet Sematary falters, it does so by playing it too safe. There is something so outrageous about the premise of King's novels, that when they are played straight they can oftentimes lose something. The film relies on CGI and also is shown in that kind of gray color scale that gives a feeling of sameness. The directors do attempt to bring the film into the broader King universe (a reference to Derry shows up at one point), but overall the film does not usurp the original in terms of memorable moments (including the original's version of Zelda).



Popular Posts