Keepin’ It Reel: Pet Sematary

Have you ever thought about all the things you would give to see your deceased loved one just one more time? What it would be like if you could have more time with them? Well, according to “Pet Sematary,” the dead are best as they are: dead. This horror movie explores the idea of bringing the dead back to life in one of the most dissatisfying adaptations of any of Stephen King’s novels. As one of King’s biggest fans, I was truly excited for this remake of one of his classics and from the moment it began, I was distraught.

As the movie begins, we are introduced to the Creed family, who recently moved from Boston to a seemingly quiet town in Maine hoping to “slow down” a little. Soon after moving, Mrs. Creed, along with her daughter Elle, discover what is later known as Pet Sematary and are approached by their new elderly neighbor, Jud. Jud warns the pair that the woods aren’t safe and heeding his advice, Mrs. Creed and Elle return home.

Elle has a lot of questions about death and her parents disagree on how the subject should be approached. Her father, Dr. Creed, feels there is nothing after death and that it is a natural occurrence that Elle should be made aware of sooner rather than later. Mrs. Creed argues that there must be some sort of afterlife and basing her opinion off of a bad childhood experience, believes Elle should not be worried about such things at her age. This discussion sets the stage for the movie’s main theme: discussing and dealing with death.

Shortly after their dead-end discussion, Elle’s cat Church is killed and Dr. Creed must decide on how he’s going to tell his daughter that her beloved pet is forever gone. Jud, understanding Dr. Creed’s predicament, decides to show him a hidden part of the cemetery that has been said to bring the dead back to life. Despite his skeptical feelings, Dr. Creed buries Church in the “magical” graveyard.

Much to his surprise, Church returns the next day changed for the worst. Their once sweet cat became a bloodthirsty demon feline overnight. The Creeds try to go on with life as normal, but when a horrible tragedy strikes, Dr. Creed must decide whether or not to use the sinister burial ground once more or leave the dead as they should be. The Creeds soon learn that death is permanent, no matter what kind of magic tries to overrule that and the punishment for meddling is worse than death itself.

Premiering thirty years after the original 1989 adaptation, this remake was surprisingly bleak, focusing more on the characters’ feelings about death, rather than making a more horrific and gory plot. It seemed like this movie was a mash-up of the original storyline of King’s novel with a few random ideas from the producers. True, the remake tried to follow the same path as the original, for the most part, but there were a few things that I did not feel fit the story at all.

During the movie, we get to experience Mrs. Creed’s flashbacks and nightmares of her childhood with her sister, Zelda. Later on, it is explained that Zelda had spinal meningitis and her younger sister, Mrs. Creed, was sometimes left in charge of feeding her disabled sister. One day, out of fear of her sister, she decided to use the dumbwaiter to deliver Zelda’s food to her instead of going up to her room. Zelda couldn’t walk well and as she leaned down to get the food from the dumbwaiter, she fell and broke her neck. Apparently, the memory has haunted Mrs. Creed for quite some time and resulted in her strong feelings against explaining death to her daughter Elle. This part of the movie was its undoing for me and it definitely made me question how much I truly enjoyed watching this movie.

I would rate this movie a 5/10. Honestly, I wanted to rate it less as a viewer, but as a critic, even I had to see the obvious hard work and detail that was put into “Pet Sematary.”