★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
Remakes & reboots have become a bit too common these days. Although some of them are very good or even great, most of them aren't good, & I lament the lack of originality in cinema in this day & age.
Pet Sematary had the potential to be good, but it ultimately settles for mediocre. Based on the 1983 novel Pet Sematary by Stephen King, the film follows Louis Creed (played by Jason Clarke), a doctor from Boston. He, along with his wife Rachel (played by Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (played by Jeté Laurence), son Gage (played by Hugo Lavoie & Lucas Lavoie), & cat Church, have moved to the small town of Ludlow, Maine. Just before they arrive at their new house, they notice a group of children wearing animal masks taking a dead dog to the cemetery in the woods, known as the "pet sematary." Their neighbor, Jud Crandall (played by John Lithgow), warns the family not to go into the woods alone, as they are filled with danger.
One day, at the university hospital, Louis encounters Victor Pascow (played by Obssa Ahmed), a student who was injured after being hit by a car. Despite his best efforts, Louis is unable to save Victor. The next night, Louis has a dream where Victor takes him to the back of the cemetery & warms him not to go further. Although Louis wakes up from the dream, he notices some things that show that it may have been more than a dream.
On Halloween, Church is hit & killed by a truck. Louis & Jud go out after dark to bury him, but Jud takes him further into the cemetery into an ancient burial ground. The next day, Church returns, but he is much more aggressive. Louis, wondering what has happened, is told by Jud that the ancient burial ground is inhabited by a spirit named Wendigo & is able to bring things back from the dead. But as the days go by & a horrific event occurs in the Creed family, they all begin to realize that sometimes dead is better.
The cast is amazing. Jason Clarke further shows his ability to show immense command in a lead role. John Lithgow is the standout of the supporting cast. And the rest of the cast give great performances in their supporting roles.
The direction by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer is great. Although they can't stop the film from going off the rails in the third act, they do show a great ability for maintaining a dark tone & atmosphere.
And the screenplay by Jeff Buhler & Matt Greenberg is bad. The changes from the book to the film don't work out that well, & as the film goes on, the plot falls apart.
This is a prime example of a lackluster film. It had so much potential, but unfortunately, it didn't deliver on that potential, showing us that sometimes not remaking something is better.
Pet Sematary was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Friday, April 5, 2019. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 101 minutes, & it is rated R for horror violence, bloody images, & some language.