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Pet Sematary 2019 Misses the Point of Stephen King’s Novel

The 2019 adaptation of Pet Sematary misses the point of Stephen King’s novel. Directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, the new Pet Sematary movie makes some radical changes to the plot of the book. Yet the problem isn’t that the story changed, but that it lost focus on the heart of the book.

Published in 1983, Pet Sematary follows the Creed family as they move from the city to rural Maine in search of a quieter life and a nicer place for the kids – eight year-old Ellie and two year-old Gage – to grow up. Unfortunately, their new property sits next to a truck route where trucks barrel along at deadly speeds all day, and the road ends up claiming first the life of the family’s pet cat, Church, and then the life of young Gage. Fortunately (or, as it turns out, unfortunately) the nearby pet cemetery holds the path to an older burial ground, where things that are buried can come back to life… though they’re not exactly the same.

Related: Pet Sematary Review

Pet Sematary was first adapted in 1989 by Mary Lambert, and thirty years later Paramount Pictures decided the story could do with an update, complete with a twist in the tale and some added horror elements. Unfortunately, in the effort to make Pet Sematary scarier, the new adaptation loses sight of what made the original novel so terrifying in the first place.

  • This Page: What Makes Stephen King’s Pet Sematary So Scary
  • Page 2: What the 1989 Pet Sematary Got Right, and the 2019 Movie Got Wrong

Though it may have a Native-American burial ground and people rising from the dead, the supernatural elements aren’t what make King’s Pet Sematary so terrifying. In fact, the core of the novel comes from two incidents that happened to King in real life, with no supernatural intervention required. In 1979, King – like Louis Creed – had gotten a job at the University of Maine (though as a writer-in-residence, not as a doctor), and was living in a house in a nearby town that bordered a major truck route. The road had a reputation for claiming the lives of local pets, and one of its victims was a cat belonging to King’s eight year-old daughter. Like Louis, King had to bury the cat in the local pet cemetery and break the news of what had happened to his daughter.

In details of the inspiration for Pet Sematary on King’s official website, he explains that the death of the cat became coupled in his mind with another horrible incident – one in which his son had almost run into a highway, and King had managed to pull him back just in time. King explains:

“I can remember crossing the road, and thinking that the cat had been killed in the road – and (I thought) what if a kid died in that road? And we had had this experience with Owen running toward the road, where I had just grabbed him and pulled him back. And the two things just came together – on one side of this two-lane highway was the idea of what if the cat came back, and on the other side of the highway was what if the kid came back.”

The idea that grew out of the horror of those two incidences was that of first pets, and then people, being brought back from the dead. But the actual, visceral fear of Pet Sematary isn’t the resurrection of Church the cat or Gage Creed, but the circumstances of their deaths in the first place.

Related: What To Expect From A Pet Sematary 2

The best horror comes from an experience that’s relatable to people, whether it’s ghost movies that play on our fear of being alone in dark and empty houses, or something more abstract like David Lynch’s Eraserhead, which puts a surreal spin of the terror of failing as a parent. While Pet Sematary has a ghost with a bloody, smashed-in head, an undead cat, and a toddler coming back from the grave with a newfound bloodlust, arguably the most frightening passage in it is the description of Gage’s death. A neighbor, Missy Dandridge, tries to comfort Louis at his son’s funeral by saying, “At least it was quick” – to which Louis (silently) responds:

Yes, it was quick, all right, he thought about saying to her… It was quick, no doubt about that, that’s why the coffin’s closed… It was quick, Missy-my-dear, one minute he was there on the road and the next minute he was lying in it, but way down by the Ringers’ house. It hit him and killed him and then it dragged him and you better believe it was quick. A hundred yards or more all told, the length of a football field. I ran after him, Missy, I was screaming his name over and over again, almost as if I expected he would still be alive – me, a doctor. I ran ten yards and there was his baseball cap and I ran twenty yards and there was one of his Star Wars sneakers, I ran forty yards and by then the truck had run off the road and the box had jackknifed in that field beyond the Ringers’ barn. People were coming out of their houses and I went on screaming his name, Missy, and at the fifty-yard line there was his jumper, it was turned inside-out, and on the seventy-yard line there was the other sneaker, and then there was Gage…

Though it’s speculated in the novel, by both Louis and Jud, that bringing Church back from the dead may have somehow started a cosmic chain of events that led to Gage’s death, it could just as easily have been the case that Gage’s death was truly random. After all, many people have buried and brought their pets back over the years without setting off a litany of further tragedies, including Jud himself. The suddenness, randomness, and violence of Gage’s death cuts to the heart of a parent’s worst nightmare, and the rest of the novel’s horror grows out of that.

Page 2: What the 1989 Pet Sematary Got Right, and the 2019 Movie Got Wrong

The first adaptation of Pet Sematary, Mary Lambert’s 1989 movie, wasn’t especially well-received upon its release. Empire scathingly called its screenplay “hacked up” and “sloppy,” and lamented that “you have to sit impatiently through scene after silly scene before the zombie attacks start.” Lambert’s Pet Sematary has, however, weathered the test of time because it recognizes that the zombie attacks were not the point of the novel.

One of the movie’s most memorable and nightmare-inducing scenes is when Rachel Creed tells Louis about her sister, Zelda, who died of convulsions as a result of spinal meningitis. There’s nothing supernatural about the story that Rachel tells but, as portrayed in the film, it captures the horror of watching a relative die slowly from disease. Denise Crosby gives a powerful performance as Rachel recalls running out of the house screaming, “Zelda’s dead! Zelda’s dead! Zelda’s dead!” – speculating that she was actually laughing, rather than crying, in relief that both Zelda and her family’s suffering was over. In the book, Rachel is left with a crippling phobia of death that causes her to lash out when Louis tells her that death is “natural,” and Lambert’s movie effectively conveys the idea that even “natural” deaths can be terrifying and monstrous.

Related: Pet Sematary: Why The Original Zelda Was Better

Crosby’s performance, along with Dale Midkiff’s as Louis Creed, is crucial in capturing the devastating power of grief that drives the novel and continually pushes Louis along a path to further disaster. Though it strays from the book in places, Lambert’s film has an awareness of what moments were most important, and it’s those scenes that are adapted closely – for example, the scene where a devastated Louis has to kill his resurrected son via lethal injection and watch Gage die all over again. Then, to emphasize how all-encompassing and ruinous Louis’ grief is, he starts the whole cycle all over again by taking the now-dead Rachel up to the burial ground. These scenes are missing from the new adaptation, and it makes all the difference.

Kölsch and Widmyer’s movie seems to share the same opinion as the aforementioned review of the 1989 Pet Sematary: that the scenes of the Creed family interacting with another (and Jud Crandall) and the gradual build-up of horror are annoying roadblocks on the way to the real meat of the story, which is zombies attacking.

Pet Sematary 2019 largely starts to go off the rails with the death of Ellie. Not only does the movie, by way of changing things up, lose the moment where Louis comes agonizingly close to pulling his child back from the road only to fail, it also makes Ellie’s death almost comically bloodless. Recall the novel’s chilling description of Louis Creed’s one hundred yard run from the place where Gage was hit to the place where his body ends up, and then compare it to Louis cradling Ellie’s completely intact body in the 2019 movie, and then later finding her looking completely pristine in her coffin. The stitches that Louis finds in the back of Ellie’s head in the novel are an extremely toned down version of a horrifying detail from the novel: that Gage’s head came completely off in the accident, and had to be stitched back on.

Conversely, Kölsch and Widmyer’s adaptation has the compulsion to spice up Zelda’s death, perhaps because the idea of someone dying from spinal meningitis wasn’t considered scary enough. The film instead concocts an incident in which Zelda falls down a dumb waiter and ends up mangled at the bottom, which is good for a jump scare but is so utterly bizarre that it’s hard to really be really horrified by it.

Related: Pet Sematary 2019 Resurrections & Ending Explained

The biggest problem with this adaptation, however, is that the entire series of terrible events is not solely driven by Louis and his refusal to accept the finality of death. In the novel, Louis brings Church back and then, even knowing that Church didn’t come back right, decides to bring Gage back as well. Bringing Gage back leads to Rachel’s death, but when Louis has an opportunity to finally leave things be, mourn his wife and son and be grateful for the daughter he still has, he still refuses to stop. Convincing himself that he “waited too long” with Gage and “something got in him,” Louis decides to repeat the process with Rachel – a decision that ultimately dooms him. King’s novel is as much a tragedy as it is a horror story, and that’s what makes it so effective.

By contrast, the last meaningful decision Louis makes in the 2019 Pet Sematary movie is the decision to bring Ellie back. From there, the movie focuses on turning Ellie into a devious, demonic killing machine who orchestrates everything else that follows. Rachel comes home and is horrified to see her daughter again, instinctively knowing that it’s not really her daughter. This is very different to the novel, where Rachel is so consumed up by happiness at having her child back that, in the moment, she doesn’t even question how it happened – a reaction that feels much more realistic.

Louis doesn’t bring anyone else back in the 2019 movie. Ellie kills Rachel and then drags her body to the burial ground, and Rachelthen  comes back for a surprise kill, impaling Louis before dragging him up to the burial ground as well. By this point the feeling of grief and desperation has long been forgotten by the movie, discarded more or less as soon as the undead Ellie showed up. Louis has no real agency and the final events are driven by external forces (demonic forces possessing the Creed family, apparently) rather than by the very human emotion of wanting to have a deceased loved one back again.

Pet Sematary 2019 isn’t necessarily a bad movie, but it is much more forgettable than the novel or the 1989 adaptation, because it lacks confidence in what made those stories scary: the simple idea that people can die at any time, and there’s nothing you can do to bring them back.

More: Pet Sematary 2019 Differences: Biggest Changes To The Book & Original Movie


2019-04-13 02:04:46

Hannah Shaw-Williams

Pet Sematary: 10 Differences Between The Original and Remake

Pet Sematary just came out this weekend which means everyone searching for tickets on Fandango is going to want to throw their phones at the wall. Don’t believe us? Just go ahead and see how many times auto-correct will change “sematary” into “cemetery.”

Related: Pet Sematary 2019 Resurrections & Ending Explained

With that said, people are obviously finding a way to go see Pet Sematary. Moreover, there’s a lot of fans of the original film who are completely hyped to see the new version of the movie. Like any remake, there’s going to be a lot of changes. It goes without saying that this list is going into full spoiler territory. Check out the list to see the biggest differences between the 1989 and 2019 Pet Sematary! 

10 Victor Pascow

There’s a reason why some of us choose to pursue a career in film blogging while some people decide to become doctors. One job involves staying at home in your pajamas and the other involves having to stop someone’s brain from falling out of their head. Although Victor Pascow has the same tragic introduction in both the original and the new Pet Sematary, the two films also portray the character differently in a few ways.

Related: Pet Sematary Review: Sometimes Stephen King Movies Are Just Decent

One change is that Pascow is certainly a lot more menacing in the new movie. A spirit guide with half of a head is scary in any context, but the 1989 Pet Sematary uses Pascow for comedic relief. There’s a sort of tongue and cheek way Pascow speaks to Louis in that film. Pascow is aware of how crazy it might look for Louis to talk to someone who is ostensibly invisible in other people’s eyes. Comparably, the new Pet Sematary uses Pascow to a horrifically maximum effect. What the new Pascow lacks in comedic edge, he makes up for in how chilling he is in each scene. However, the most noticeable difference is that Pascow has way less screen time in the new film as compared to the original. The 1989 film continuously shows Pascow leading Louis through all of the rules of how the pet sematary actually functions. Even though the new movie has Pascow serving a similar role in the plot, he isn’t in it nearly as much as the previous film. Bottom line is that OG Pascow got jokes for days, but new Pascow is more understandably upset that half of his face is missing. 

9 Funeral March

If there’s a procession of creepy kids carrying a dead animal in front of one’s house, it might be a red flag to immediately relocate. The 1989 film introduces the concept of a magical cemetery a little differently than the new movie. Essentially, the original movie shows Jud pretty much explaining everything to Louis. Although that’s not too far off from the 2019 film, the previous adaptation never indicates how common it is for people to actually bury their pets in the cemetery. The new movie, on the other hand, depicts a group of children with creepy masks playing the drums while carrying their dead pet. This indicates that taking one’s dead animal to the cemetery is either a town ritual or at the very least a well-known legend to the locals. 

The original movie makes it look like it’s uncommon for people to bury their pets. Moreover, that film also insinuates that the locals are scared to even go near the cemetery. Regardless of the differences in the two movies, a pet cemetery in someone’s back yard should be a red flag in and of itself to get the heck out of dodge. 

8 Zelda’s Fate 

As any child who had watched the 1989 Pet Sematary knows, Rachel’s sister, Zelda, is absolutely traumatizing. Every single scene with Zelda is specifically designed to utterly disturb the audience. The backstory for the character is relatively the same in both the original and new film. Zelda has spinal meningitis and it ends up making her bedridden. The traumatizing part is that when Rachel was a little girl she had been left all alone to take care of Zelda. Rachel’s perception of the situation is what makes it all so scary. 

A major change in the new movie revolves around Zelda’s death. The film shows Rachel using a dumbwaiter to send food to Zelda while she’s upstairs. Zelda ends up falling down the dumbwaiter and dying. The original movie is different due to the fact that Zelda dies from her spinal meningitis. There are two different ways Zelda dies, but both are equally scary. 

7 Andrew Hubatsek vs Alyssa Brooke Levine 

Raaaaccchhhhellllllll !!!! Sorry, sorry. We couldn’t help ourselves. Here’s a little fact that might blow some minds. Zelda in the 1989 Pet Sematary is actually played by an actor named Andrew Hubatsek. That’s right, Zelda is played by a man. Casting Hubatsek to play the character is actually a genius move. The way Hubatsek’s elongated features move behind his prosthetics are so disorienting that it immediately strikes fear into the viewer. 

Related: Does Pet Sematary Have An After-Credits Scene?

What’s interesting about Alyssa Brooke Levine’s portrayal as Zelda is that the actress is closer in age to the character she’s supposed to be playing. Levine’s interpretation of Zelda is way more literal than Hubatsek’s take on the character. Considering the fact that Levine is pretty much stationary through the entire film, she’s forced to use her eyes to evoke all of Zelda’s emotion. This iteration of Zelda ends up being more sympathetic than frightening. 

6 Jud’s Introduction

Jud is sympathetic towards people who have lost their loved ones. It’s his Achilles heel one could say. Too soon? Anyway, Jud is a pivotal character in both the original and the new Pet Sematary. Jud is definitely the moral compass of the movie. It might be a fun drinking game to count how many times Jud reiterates the story’s theme. Even though Jud serves the same function in both films, his introduction is a little different. 

The beginning of the 1989 movie shows Gage wandering out into the middle of the road. Jud picks up Gage right before he gets hit by an oncoming truck. Louis and his whole entire family are then immediately introduced to Jud. The new film in comparison shows Jud first meeting Ellie inside the cemetery. As a result, Jud initially comes across more menacing than the original film’s version of the character. If a third version of Pet Sematary is ever made, maybe someone can finally tell Jud to wear shoes that cover his whole heel. 

5 Church 

Guess it’s true what they say about cats having nine lives. Church is equal parts adorable and horrifying in both versions of Pet Sematary. However, each movie has its own cat breed. Church in the 1989 film is a British Shorthair. The name Winston Churchill is starting to make a lot of sense.

Explain yourself, new Pet Sematary! The 2019 movie uses a Maine Coon to play Church. Interestingly, recent reports have said over 8 cats were used to play Church in the recent adaptation. We pity whoever was on that film set’s litter box duty. 

4 Missy Dandridge 

Everyone in Pet Sematary seems to have never heard of a novel concept called the washing machine. Even though the original film takes place in 1989, everyone hangs up their sheets on a clothesline. It’s no wonder why Louis and his family need a maid. Enter Missy Dandridge. 

Dandridge never makes an appearance in the new movie even though she’s featured quite a bit in the original adaptation. Although Dandridge’s motivations in the movie are vague, it’s left to assume that she knows about the cemetery’s dark history. Dandridge is not too dissimilar to Pascow in that they both attempt to warn Louis’ family about the cemetery. 

3 Ellie vs Gage 

Here’s a theory. The new Pet Sematary’s screenwriter accidentally wrote down the name Ellie each time he was actually supposed to write down the name Gage. Sadly, the movie was too deep into production and there was no turning back. Sorry, the jokes are running on full steam today. 

Easily the biggest change in the new Pet Sematary is the fact that Ellie is the child that dies and comes back to life. Conversely, Ellie’s brother, Gage, is the evil kid in the original movie. These changes alter the story in one considerable way. Since Ellie is older, she’s able to comprehend her actions in a way Gage cannot. Also, Gage is like…pint size. It’s always fun to watch pint sized killers. 

2 Jud’s Drink 

We’re going to play devil’s advocate here. If you’re going to dig up a dead body, what would be the point of spiking the drink of someone who knows absolutely nothing about your scheme to dig up a dead body? Regardless, the new Pet Sematary depicts Louis spiking Jud’s drink. According to the film’s logic, the reason Louis does this is because he fears Jud might get in the way of his plan to dig up Ellie. 

The original movie shows Jud basically drinking himself into a self-induced coma while Louis retrieves Gage’s dead body. Well, maybe not a literal coma. Jud wakes up later and then dies. Which is kind of like a permanent coma.

1 The Ending 

Who would have thought this movie ended with the mom and son actually being one of the tethered? Wrong movie, we think. In reality, the 1989 movie ends with Gage dying and Rachel coming back to life. Rachel murders Louis, leaving Ellie to be the only survivor. 

The new film, on the other hand, ends with zombified versions of Louis, Ellie, and Rachel marching towards Gage. Our prediction is that Gage escapes and defeats them all with baby kung-fu. 

NEXT: Pet Sematary 2019’s IT Reference: How To Do Stephen King’s Universe Right


2019-04-08 03:04:34

Nathaniel Vanderpoort

Pet Sematary’s Church the Cat: 5 Differences From the Original Film (and 5 Things They Kept the Same)

The 2019 remake of Pet Sematary is now in theaters, reintroducing audiences to one of Stephen King’s most disturbing works, as well as the Creed family’s undead feline, Winston Churchill, or Church for short. In both the 1989 and 2019 versions, Church’s burial in the titular Pet Sematary acts as a catalyst for the story’s events, pulling focus toward the reanimated cat’s unnerving presence.

While the original Church remains one of the creepiest animals in horror, the 2019 remake of Pet Sematary took some creative liberty in adapting the iconic cat for its own style. Here are five things the 2019 remake changes about Church, and five things that stay true to the original.

RELATED: Pet Sematary 2019 Differences: Biggest Changes To The Book & Original Movie

10 DIFFERENT: It changes the cat from a British Shorthair to a Maine Coon

1989’s Pet Sematary went with a very traditional “creepy cat” look for Church, opting for a feline with a dark gray coat and piercing yellow eyes (poor British Shorthairs are always typecasted). The 2019 remake updates the formula by going with a fluffy brown tabby Maine Coon to portray Church, a tribute both to the novel’s first edition cover art and King’s home state of Maine.

Both looks certainly have their merits, but it’s up to individual preference as to which is more effective at making viewers wince at the site of a common house cat. Frankly, witnessing either cat appear from beyond the grave would be a bonafide nightmare.

9 SAME: Neither cats are CGI

Neither the 1989 version nor 2019 version of Pet Sematary uses CGI to portray Church the cat. That’s right, the feline terrors you see on screen could be any one of several different actual felines cast as Church. In the 2019 remake, a total of four different plush Maine Coons were trained to perform actions as needed for each scene.

RELATED: Every Stephen King Movie Ranked, From Worst To Best

And if you thought four cats was a lot, imagine working on the set of the original Pet Sematary, which allegedly employed seven different cats to play Church. Don’t worry though, the cats were surely paid their weight in wet food as compensation for their work.

8 DIFFERENT: The 2019 Church Is Beefier

Church the cat, as seen in the 1989 version of Pet Sematary, is a perfectly ordinary house cat aside from the whole evil incarnate thing. His size is comparable to most other domestic cats. 1989’s Church relied solely on his glaring eyes and aggressive hissing to creep people out.

In contrast, the 2019 remake adds a more imposing presence to Church by bringing in an atypically large cat to play the role. In an article by The Week, the writer describes her experience meeting one of the four Maine Coon cats that collectively portray Church and says the cat was “larger than most small dogs.”

7 SAME: Both cats are catalysts for the story

The 2019 version of Pet Sematary differs from the original in a number of significant ways, but both movies begin in a very similar fashion. Early on in both films, Church the cat is hit by a truck and killed, before being taken to the titular pet cemetery and buried. Church’s burial in the cursed graveyard and subsequent reanimation are what spur Louis Creed to use a similar method to bring back Gage in the original and Ellie in the remake.

RELATED: 10 Hilariously Bad Horror Movies on Netflix

Although the reanimated children serve as each story’s respective main antagonist during the final acts, there would be no story to begin with if it weren’t for Church the cat.

6 DIFFERENT: 2019 Church Has More Screen Time

In the 1989 version of Pet Sematary, Church only makes a few brief appearances before being sidelined for most of the movie’s duration. However, in the 2019 remake, Church repeatedly shows up to terrify and threaten the Creed family all the way to the end – literally, he’s front and center during the very last shot of the film.

Imagining the struggle of wrangling four high-maintenance Maine Coons on a movie set, it’s no surprise Pet Sematary 2019 makes the most out of its feline cast. Compared to the original, the remake probably has around twice the number of scenes featuring Church the cat.

5 SAME: Both cats smell terrible

Stephen King’s sourcework describes Church as smelling really bad after his resurrection, and both the original movie and the 2019 Pet Sematary remake make notes of the feline’s foul stench.

Worse yet, it doesn’t seem as if any amount of washing can rid the undead animals of the stench of decomposition. It’s hard to blame Church, though. After all, he was hit by a truck and killed, buried and then reanimated as an evil zombie cat – we’d all need a good shower after going through that.

4 DIFFERENT: The new Church is smarter

This isn’t to say the original Church wasn’t smart, but his cleverness wasn’t one of his prominent characteristics. Rather, he mostly acts like an extraordinarily grumpy, occasionally violent, tomcat. In the remake, Church the cat is desperate to survive in his reanimated form and even manipulates his human owners into sparing his life.

RELATED: Pet Sematary Review

At one point, Church puts on an innocent facade to keep Louis from putting him down. In another scene, Church manages to make his way home after being driven far away to a remote location and left to his own devices.

3 SAME: Both cats have visually striking eyes

“Church stared at him a moment longer – God, his eyes were different, somehow, they were different.” This brief excerpt from the novel by Stephen King focuses on undead Church’s visually distinctive eyes. It’s no wonder then that the 1989 film adaptation makes Church’s glowing yellow eyes a defining feature of his physical appearance.

Perhaps more subtle in the 2019 remake, Church’s eyes seem to have the ability to stare right through your own and into your very soul. Similarly to the 1989 Pet Sematary movie poster, the 2019 remake’s movie poster features Church hulking over the cast of characters with exaggerated yellow eyes.

2 DIFFERENT: Church survives the 2019 remake, unlike in the original

Perhaps the biggest difference between new Church and old Church is that new Church is able to escape being put down by his owners and make it to the end of the movie, whereas old Church is put down toward the end.

Even worse for old Church is that he doesn’t make an appearance in the 1992 sequel, Pet Sematary Two, dashing any hopes of him being resurrected again. Still, it makes sense that the new Church survived the end of the movie, as he seemed to have the wits and ambition to do so.

1 SAME: Neither cats are killed on-screen

Rather conspicuously, both movie versions of Pet Sematary opt out of actually showing Church the cat being killed by the truck. Not that anyone wants to see a cat being struck by a semi, but then why do both films show small children being killed in similar ways?

In fact, the remake actually switches things up by killing off the older sibling as opposed to the original, which kills off the younger Gage. If it was deemed appropriate to give Ellie an on-screen death, then it’s a curious thing that the directors decided against showing Church the cat’s death, and in both versions no less.

NEXT: The 10 Best Horror Movies For Jump Scares


2019-04-07 01:04:07

Jordan Gerblick

All Pet Sematary Movies Ranked

Thirty years after the original Pet Sematary premiered, Paramount Pictures released a reboot for a new generation of horror fans. So, where does Pet Sematary 2019 rank among the three adaptations?

Based on Stephen King’s 1983 novel of the same name, Pet Sematary follows the Creed family’s move from the city of Boston to a supposedly quiet life in Ludlow, Maine. In the woods behind their property is a pet cemetery (with a misspelled sign) that has been maintained by the town’s children for generations. And in the woods behind the pet cemetery is another burial ground – this one with the power to bring the buried dead back to life… though they’re not quite the same.

Related: Pet Sematary 2019 Differences: Biggest Changes To The Book & Original Movie

The original Pet Sematary is widely regarded as a classic of ‘80s horror, while the 1992 sequel doesn’t have the same prestige. In fact, King had his name removed from the film. With the release of Pet Sematary 2019, now is a good time to take a look back at all the film adaptations of King’s book and compare them. Here’s our ranking of the three Pet Sematary films.

  • This Page: Pet Sematary II and Pet Sematary 2019
  • Page 2: Why Pet Sematary 1989 is Still the Best Movie

3. PET SEMATARY II

After directing the original Pet Sematary film, Mary Lambert released a sequel that’s messy, corny, and devoid of genuine scares. Structurally, the script represents the major weak spot, as Stephen King’s original tale was superseded by screenwriter Richard Outten’s take. In retrospect, Pet Sematary II has nostalgic appeal with its overt camp and dated visual effects. As a whole, though, Pet Sematary II is the least effective of the franchise films. 

Pet Sematary II stars Anthony Edwards (ER) and Edward Furlong (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) as Chase and Jeff Matthews, respectively. Upon the tragic death of the family matriarch, Darlene, the father and son move to Ludlow, Maine. Before they even arrive, however, Pet Sematary II opens with an awkward death scene – one that lacks the tension and subdued dread of the original film. Incidentally, Lambert’s sequel immediately feels off from the start with its notable lack of directorial finesse and style. Rather than staying true to the original Pet Sematary premise and tone, the sequel introduces literal shock horror with a dreadful opening sequence.

In Pet Sematary II’s main roles, both Edwards and Furlong deliver performances that are basically fine. And that’s a good thing, as they mostly ground the film with heart, thus allowing Clancy Brown to play it up as the sheriff-turned-zombie Gus Gilbert. While the first half of Pet Sematary II prioritizes exposition in order to establish the town baddies (Gus and the bully Clyde Parker), the second half features various memorable moments, ridiculous as they may be. There’s a dream sequence sex scene in which Chase imagines a nude woman with a dog’s head, and there’s a gory death scene when Gus terrorizes (and kills) Clyde. 

Related: Pet Sematary 2019’s IT Reference

But these highlights aren’t enough to make Pet Sematary II an early ’90s classic, or even a good film. The awkward editing and pacing creates unintentional comedy, and the storyline lacks King’s polish, even though it wisely references the original film’s story. Aside from the weak script, the ghost elements also devalue Pet Sematary II. Overall, the sequel feels like it’s directed more towards the casual moviegoer rather than genre enthusiasts who appreciate a proper scare.  

2. PET SEMATARY (2019)

In May 2018, filmmakers Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer suggested that their Pet Sematary reboot would be the “scariest” Stephen King adaptation. On various levels, the films works, as the structure mostly stays true to the original film – albeit with a few major changes – and the directors seem invested in pleasing die-hard horror fans. Whereas Pet Semetary II is campy and corny, the new Pet Sematary organically immerses viewers into the story. Unfortunately, Kölsch and Widmyer’s film just isn’t that scary. 

Technically, Pet Sematary excels with its sound design, from the roaring Orinco trucks to the ominous score. In addition, cinematographer Laurie Rose (Overlord) strengthens the film with her fluid visuals, most notably the overhead shots that establish the town itself as a villain before introducing the film’s undead baddies. It’s also evident that Kölsch and Widmyer are skilled filmmakers, as Pet Sematary doesn’t feel rushed, nor does it force blatant scares on the audience. At times, though, Pet Sematary feels too restrained. It’s not that the film lacks gore and WTF visuals, it’s that various sequences don’t end with a proper scare. And considering that the trailers spoiled one of Pet Sematary’s main twists, the reveal doesn’t have as much impact as it should.

John Lithgow’s interpretation of Jud Crandall also isn’t especially memorable. In the original film, Fred Gwynne appears slightly menacing and strange with his physical mannerisms and notable accent. There’s a “lived-in” effect, and Gwynne steals most of his scenes as Jud. In Pet Sematary 2019, however, Lithgow walks the line and plays it simple. There’s nothing wrong with that, and Lithgow doesn’t give a bad performance, but the film already has a grounding force with Jason Clarke as Louis Creed, and doesn’t need another one.

In Pet Sematary’s main role, Clarke and Amy Seimetz give fascinating performances. As Louis, Clarke naturally comes across as a strong patriarchal figure; a stark contrast to Dale Midkiff’s aloof and almost campy character in the original film (more on that later). Because Clarke mostly stays balanced and composed, he complements Seimetz’s more animated performance as Rachel Creed, a woman traumatized by childhood experiences, along with the death of a loved one. Over the years, Pet Sematary will age well, if only because of Seimetz’s brilliant acting and depiction of absolute dread.

Page 2: Why Pet Sematary 1989 is Still the Best Movie

1. PET SEMATARY (1989)

The original Pet Sematary remains the best franchise film because of the directorial execution and its faithfulness to the emotional core of the novel. From beginning to end, the film undoubtedly has that ‘80s VHS vibe, and in the best way possible. Early on, Lambert effectively establishes a specific mood of dread that permeates each sequence. And whereas the creepy sound design complements the creepiest characters, there’s also value in hearing the Ramones’ “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker” during a pivotal scene. Of course, the Ramones recorded “Pet Sematary” for the movie – which is rad.

Looking back, Midkiff’s acting doesn’t hold up especially well because he often appears to imitate Bruce Campbell’s performances in The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. The exaggerated reactions infuse some comedy into the film, but often in ways that undermine the horror. A well-placed line of a dialogue seems like it would be more effective than over-the-top physical reactions. But as a whole, the collectively subdued performances afford Lambert some extra room to explore the narrative premise: the rules of the actual Pet Sematary. 

The original adaptation benefits from sticking to the plot of the original novel, with Louis Creed serving as the engineer of his family’s doom every step of the way. This is in contrast to the remake, where things get out of his control and he’s basically helpless against his resurrected child. Lambert’s film is less subdued than the remake and has more raw emotion, so that audiences really feel it when Rachel relays the terrible story of her sister’s death, or when poor Louis is forced to kill Gage all over again.

Some horror movies from the 1980s have aged horribly, but Pet Sematary still feels like a genuine classic. The aforementioned Gwynne provides a spectacular performance, and it becomes even more special for those whom are familiar with his previous work as Herman Munster. Plus, Stephen King himself makes a cameo. It’s all these little things that add up to make Pet Sematary so memorable and fun. And just when you’re locked into the story and fully enjoying the gnarly ‘80s aesthetics of it all, there are genuinely gory moments that are difficult to watch. The original Pet Sematary is like a pinball machine: it bounces the audience around while staying true to the rules of the game. 

More: Pet Sematary 2019 Resurrections & Ending Explained


2019-04-07 01:04:05

Q.V. Hough

Pet Sematary 2019 Differences: Biggest Changes To The Book & Original Movie

Stephen King’s horror tragedy Pet Sematary has a new movie adaptation from directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, but the story has some major changes from the original novel and Mary Lambert’s 1989 film adaptation. While the first half of the movie mostly sticks to plot beats from the book, things take a sharp right turn into new territory after a horrifying death at the movie’s midpoint.

Pet Sematary stars Jason Clark as Louis Creed, a doctor who moves his family from Boston to rural Maine, buying a house with property that extends into the woods behind it. Those woods include a pet cemetery maintained by the children of the town, who have an unnerving ritual of wearing animal masks and walking in procession to the cemetery when one of their pets dies.

Related: Read Screen Rant’s Review of Pet Sematary

Together with his wife, Rachel (Amy Seimetz), their two children, Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), and the family cat, Church, Louis tries to relax into his new life. However, when Church is hit by a truck and Louis’ neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), takes him to a strange burial ground beyond the pet cemetery, it marks the downfall of the Creed family. Here’s how the 2019 take on Pet Sematary differs from King’s novel and Lambert’s film.

  • This Page: Changes to Jud Crandall’s Role in Pet Sematary
  • Page 2: Changes to Zelda’s Death, Church’s Return, and Which Child Dies
  • Page 3: Changes to the Ending of Pet Sematary

In the 2019 adaptation of Pet Sematary, Jud says that he felt compelled to take Louis up to the burial ground to bring Church back because he felt sorry for Ellie, and also because the dark power of the place compelled him to share its secret. While these reasons are also present in the book, there was originally another major reason why Jud helped Louis with his dead cat problem: as a way to repay him for saving his wife. In King’s novel, Norma Crandall is still alive and suffers a heart attack that she survives thanks to Louis’ quick actions. Later, Jud blames himself for starting the chain of events that led to Gage’s death, lamenting, “You saved Norma’s life, and I wanted to do something for you, and that place turned my good wish to its own evil purpose.” Norma dies later in the novel, but (most likely for the purposes of trimming down the story), she’s already dead at the start of both the movie adaptations.

There’s one major change to Jud Crandall’s backstory in Kölsch and Widmyer’s book that casts his later actions in a much more unfavorable light. After Church comes back to life, filthy and mean, Louis demands to know more about the burial ground. Jud reveals that it has been used many times over the years, and that when he was a boy he took his own dog up there after it died from an infected barbed wire wound. Jud explains that his dog came back bad, and that his father was forced to kill it again after it attacked Jud’s mother.

In the book, ud’s decision to take Louis up to the burial ground makes more sense, because the dog that Jud brought back to life as a boy didn’t turn violent. That’s not to say that it came back exactly the same; Jud admits that the dog was never the same after its resurrection and behaved stupid and slow, without the same spark of life as before. However, the dog never attacked anyone and lived on for years after its resurrection, before eventually dying of old age. Jud also reveals that many other people have buried their pets there over the years, and that only one – a bull called Hanratty, who is referenced in newspaper clippings in the movie – ever turned mean. In Lambert’s film, the dog comes back snapping, growling, and “not quite the same,” but still lives a full life before eventually dying peacefully in the night.

Page 2: Changes to Zelda’s Death, Church’s Return, and Which Child Dies

Rachel Creed’s traumatic experience with her sister, Zelda (Alyssa Levine), is a core part of Pet Sematary‘s story, but the 2019 movie makes Zelda’s death more violent than in the book or Lambert’s movie. Zelda suffered from spinal meningitis, which twisted her body, caused her great pain, and prevented her from getting out of bed, and Rachel explains that the great suffering the illness inflicted upon her ended up poisoning her mind too, making her bitter and resentful. Young Rachel was frequently left at home alone to look after her sister, and was secretly disgusted by her and wished for her death. In the original story, Zelda one day goes into convulsions and starts choking while Rachel is alone in the house, and then dies.

However, in the new movie Zelda dies in a much more bizarre manner. Rachel explains that she used a dumb waiter to send food up to Zelda’s room, even though she wasn’t supposed to use it because it didn’t always work. After she sends the food up she hears a scraping noise overhead as Zelda drags herself over to the dumb waiter, and then there’s a crashing noise. Rachel opens the dumb waiter to find that the elevator and its tray of food has fallen down. Then suddenly Zelda herself comes crashing down on top of it, her body gruesomely twisted to fit into the small space. It certainly adds an extra horror element, but it raises questions of how a girl who was bedridden with advanced spinal meningitis could have dragged herself across the room, and both how and why she then climbed into the dumb waiter and fell.

Related: Pet Sematary 2019’s IT Reference

One detail from the two previous versions of Pet Sematary that’s left out of the 2019 movie is Church the cat’s testicles. When the family first move to the new house, Church is not neutered and has a bold and feisty personality. Louis privately has an aversion to getting Church neutered because he hates the idea of the cat turning lazy and mellow. However, due to the close proximity of the dangerous road, he ultimately takes Church to the vet to have the operation in the hopes that it will prevent the cat from wandering to his death. Obviously this doesn’t work, but the personality change that Church undergoes after having his testicles removed is foreshadowing for the more dramatic change that happens after he’s brought back from the dead.

Ellie’s death results from another significant change from the novel: Louis’ treatment of Church. In both the book and the 1989, Louis kills Church towards the end of the story with a lethal injection, putting the cat to sleep for book. However, in the new movie Louis attempts to put Church down early on, but cannot bring himself to do it. Instead he drives Church out to the middle of nowhere and abandons him. Church finds his way home, and when Ellie sees him walking down the road she runs out to greet him. The story changes radically from there, and by the end of the movie Church is still alive.

Now we come to the biggest change in the new adaptation of Pet Sematary: which of the Creed children dies. In both King’s novel and Lambert’s movie, it’s poor little Gage. Gage takes off running towards the road while his parents are distracted, and although Louis gives chase and comes very close to catching him, he isn’t able to stop his son from running into the path of an Orinco truck. In the new movie Gage does run towards the road and comes very close to being hit by the truck, but Louis grabs him and pulls him back just in time. However, Ellie isn’t so lucky. The Orinco truck swerves to avoid Louis and Gage, but its cargo comes loose and carries on down the road towards Ellie, killing her instantly.

Page 3: Changes to the Ending of Pet Sematary

From Ellie’s death onwards, the ending of Pet Sematary changes drastically. One element that remains the same is Rachel taking her surviving child to her parents’ house, and Louis staying behind with plans to resurrect the remaining child. Rachel also returns in all three versions of the story, but it’s only in the 2019 Pet Sematary that she brings the surviving child back with her. In both the book and the 1989 movie, Ellie stays behind at her grandparents’ house. Another plot point that’s more or less the same is the resurrected child killing Jud with Louis’ scalpel, and the 2019 movie even includes a detail that was missing from Lambert’s film: Gage (or in this case, Ellie) impersonating Norma Crandall in order to taunt Jud before killing him. That’s where the similarities end.

In King and Lambert’s versions, Louis is the last person to see his returned child again. The resurrected Gage first goes to Jud’s house and kills the old man. Rachel, upon returning, goes to Jud’s house instead of going straight home and is lured upstairs by the sound of groaning. There she has a terrible vision of her dead sister, Zelda, but then the vision goes away and she sees her returned son standing in front of her. Rachel is overjoyed and immediately hugs little Gage… giving him the perfect opportunity to stab her to death with the scalpel.

Related: What To Expect From A Pet Sematary 2

Louis, upon waking up and upon seeing small muddy footprints and discovering that his scalpel is missing, realizes that Gage must have taken it and that his son has come back bad. He makes the decision to put both Church and Gage to rest again with a lethal injection and, as mentioned earlier, successfully kills Church. He finds Rachel’s dead body and is attacked by Gage, and after a struggle succeeds in injecting Gage with the contents of the needle. An utterly distraught Louis watches his son die a second time, but convinces himself that he can bring Rachel back because her death is more recent than Gage’s was. He takes Rachel up to the burial ground, buries her, then waits for her to come home. The book and movie end with Rachel returning to her husband, with the implication that she then kills him.

In Pet Sematary 2019, Ellie comes home to Louis before killing anyone. He gives her a bath and fresh clothes and puts her to bed, and they have a talk in which Ellie makes it clear that she knows she died and was brought back. Louis is unnerved by her strange behavior and disturbed when he finds the staples in the back of her head while washing her, but convinces himself that it’s worth it to have his daughter back. The next day, Ellie goes over to Jud’s house and kills him. Rachel returns, and instead of being overjoyed to see her daughter again, is horrified by her and knows instinctively that whatever came back is not really Ellie.

Louis goes over to Jud’s house and finds his dead body. Meanwhile, Rachel runs upstairs with Gage and barricades herself in her room. When Ellie manages to get through the door, Rachel lowers Gage out of the window and drops him into Louis’ arms. While Louis takes Gage to the car and locks him in, telling him not to open the door for anyone except himself, Ellie kills Rachel. She knocks Louis out and drags her mother up to the burial ground.

After waking up, Louis runs to the pet sematary, where he is attacked by Ellie. The two of them fight and Louis is close to killing Ellie when suddenly he’s impaled from behind by the resurrected Rachel. Louis himself is then taken up to the burial ground and resurrected, the movie ends with the three undead members of the Creed family slowly approaching the car where Gage is waiting. Louis tells Gage to unlock the car door, which he does, and then the credits roll.

More: Pet Sematary 2019 Resurrections & Ending Explained


2019-04-06 11:04:10

Hannah Shaw-Williams

Pet Sematary 2019’s IT Reference: How To Do Stephen King’s Universe Right

Pet Sematary 2019 has a reference to Derry, the fictional Maine town that appears across Stephen King’s writing but made famous by IT. Far from just a wink to one of the author’s most famous works, this sees movies based on King begin to properly embrace the shared universe aspect of his books.

A readaptation of King’s 1983 novel (the previous movie released in 1989), Pet Sematary is set on the outskirts of Ludlow, Maine and presents a lot of classic elements of the author, from articulated trucks to century-spanning spirits. The film follows the Creed family who gets ensnared with the Wendigo after the death of their cat Church, then daughter Ellie (toddler Gage in the book). It’s a rather self-contained story – the new movie doesn’t even go that far into Ludlow itself – although has some big universe teases.

Related: Every Stephen King Movie Ranked, From Worst To Best

On the way back to Ludlow, Rachel (Amy Seimetz) gets stuck in a traffic jam on the outskirts, at which point a road sign for Derry can be seen. Derry is best known as the town menaced every 27 years by IT in the form of Pennywise the Clown, but predates that 1986 novel by a few years, with references in stories as diverse as The Body (the inspiration for Stand By Me) to The Running Man (nothing like the movie) and appearances in subsequent books.

The IT reference in Pet Sematary comes from the source, but that it happens so innocuously is a key step in the evolution of Stephen King on film. There have been almost 50 movies based on his books (depending on how you count) that have managed to translate much of what makes the writing so popular, defining New England horror as a legitimate genre. But one thing that most Stephen King movies have avoided is how everything is supposed to exist in a proper, connected universe; places and sometimes people intersect in surprising ways that reward King superfans with a tapestry of stories to explore (that doesn’t get in the way for newcomers).

2017’s The Dark Tower did attempt to introduce this idea similar to how the book series connected various threads together, but that wound up being a marketing ploy using photos of The Overlook than it was anything of substance in the hastily-edited film itself. Last year’s Castle Rock TV show on Hulu managed to tie things together much more successfully, with a mixture of meta casting and sharp writing constructing a world teeming with references, but that was still very much targeted at the King faithful.

Pet Sematary‘s IT reference takes this to a much bigger scale. Pennywise is a true cultural icon after IT made $700 million at the box office, and Pet Sematary is similarly poised for impressive returns. Of course, the reference doesn’t go much further than that: a reference. It’s not indicative of a connection between the new movie and IT: Chapter Two due out later this year, mainly thanks to book rights, with different studios owning different stories: Pet Sematary is a Paramount release, IT a New Line production for Warner Bros.

Related: How The IT Franchise Can Continue After Chapter Two

But that isn’t the point. There should be no expectation for IT and the Wendigo to cross paths – their similar modus operandi never yields a direct connection. In contrast to how every Easter egg in a Marvel movie is deemed to tease something big in the future, in Stephen King’s mythology it’s fun background. To see Derry get a casual namedrop in Pet Sematary, a film totally unrelated, is the big deal.

Next: What To Expect From A Pet Sematary 2


2019-04-05 08:04:13

Alex Leadbeater

Pet Sematary 2019 Resurrections & Ending Explained

WARNING: Major spoilers for Pet Sematary

Apart from altering Stephen King’s original ending, the latest adaptation of Pet Sematary also increases the body count and resurrects some unexpected characters in the titular cursed graveyard. Even the major spoiler that was revealed in the trailers didn’t ruin certain creative liberties taken in the film’s final act.

Based on Stephen King’s 1983 novel of the same name, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s Pet Sematary follows Louis and Rachel Creed (Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz, respectively) as they move their family of four from the busy city life of Boston to the slow (and later discovered, supernatural) small town life of Ludlow, Maine. Following a sudden tragedy, their neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) let’s Louis in on a little secret: the land they bought is cursed, and the root of the curse is in a cemetery deep in the woods that brings the dead back to life. Unfortunately, this knowledge ends up being a curse itself when Louis attempts to use the cemetery’s powers to his advantage, only to pave the way for irreversible horror.

Related: What To Expect From A Pet Sematary 2

While it’s hardly unprecedented for adaptations to take some creative liberties with the source material – especially when it comes to adapting one of King’s behemoth novels into a single film – this version of Pet Sematary makes one major change to the story that ends up rewiring the entire third act. That said, whether or not it lives up to the original, or even improves upon it, the 2019 Pet Sematary ending introduces some new elements to King’s story that are worth exploring.

  • This Page: Wendigo Spirit Explained & How The Resurrections Are Different
  • Page 2: What Happens In Pet Sematary’s Ending & What Changed From The Original

The Wendigo Spirit Explained

One significant element in King’s Pet Sematary novel that isn’t present in Mary Lambert’s original 1989 adaptation is the Wendigo. A demon derived from Algonquin folklore, this creature is essentially the patron saint of misery and death, typically linked to things like famine, cannibalism, and murder – which would explain King’s decision to make it a staple figure in Pet Sematary. In the novel, the Wendigo’s roots run deep in Ludlow, to way back when the land was inhabited by Native Americans. It discovered a patch of land known as the Micmac Burial Ground and cursed it, ultimately scaring away the residents once they discovered its dark, supernatural power. Only, when the original settlers left, the Wendigo stayed, and the rest is history.

In the 2019 Pet Sematary movie, the Wendigo is mentioned but almost in passing. Louis gets his first glimpse of it when Jud shows him a book detailing the town’s seedy history, and they later hear it making some unnatural sounds in the woods. In the film, it’s more of a presence than a physical being – though Louis does catch some shadowy glimpse of it when he’s making his way to the burial ground – and its influence on the characters is what motivates their sudden string of tragedy.

Related: Just How Scary (& Violent) Is Pet Sematary 2019?

There are other supernatural forces at play in the Pet Sematary film, like the ghost of Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed) warning the Creeds to stay away from the Pet Sematary, but the Wendigo is pulling the strings. It’s the force that draws Louis into the woods – that conjures up all of Rachel’s darkest memories – that makes death such a magnet to anyone living on its land. In short, the Pet Sematary would never exist with the Wendigo.

How The Resurrected Are Different

For a movie that revolves around death, the body count isn’t especially high in Pet Sematary – especially compared to other horror films whose crux is bringing the dead back to life. That said, it’s still grim business all around, and this latest adaptation introduces an updated death toll that is arguably darker than its predecessor – in terms of its central characters at least. Considering that Pet Sematary‘s cursed burial ground dates back centuries, there have been plenty of reanimated corpses who can thank the Wendigo’s soured soil for bringing them back to life. That said, the characters who die in this latest film and are later resurrected differ slightly from the source material – and the biggest difference was actually spoiled in Pet Sematary‘s trailers.

In both the novel and the latest adaptation, the Creed family’s pet cat Church is the first to get buried, and ultimately resurrected, in the cemetery. This gets the ball rolling for the ensuing tragedy, and it’s up until this point that the adaptation sticks closely to King’s original story. It’s the first human character who’s buried in the Pet Sematary that serves as the biggest change: Ellie Creed (Jeté Laurence). In the book, Ellie’s younger brother Gage (played in the film by twins Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) is killed, thus sending Louis into an emotional deep end that ultimately destroys his entire family. In this adaptation, Ellie is the unfortunate first victim, and the change wasn’t just done to shake things up, but to add a more emotionally damaging element to the story. When Gage is resurrected, he’s too young to comprehend what’s happening; Ellie, on the other hand, was just starting to understand the true meaning and weight of death shortly before she was killed.

The final two resurrections belong to Rachel and Louis. In the original Pet Sematary, Louis’ death is implied after Rachel’s reanimated corpse returns from the Pet Sematary, but never shown. In this version of Pet Sematary, though the audience never sees Louis buried, his resurrected self returns home with his wife and daughter.

Page 2 of 2: What Happens In Pet Sematary’s Ending & What Changed From The Original

What Happens At The End Of Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary’s final act is a fight to the death. Better yet, it’s a fight to bring the dead back to life. Once Ellie’s reanimated corpse is well aware that neither Rachael nor Jud will accept the fact that she’s been resurrected, her killing spree begins – starting with Jud. Despite the fact that Jud is well aware of the burial ground’s supernatural powers, and despite the fact that he’s equipped with a gun, he ultimately becomes Ellie’s first victim. Unfortunately, once Louis discover what his daughter’s done, he’s still late to prevent her from doing the same to his wife. Rachel and Ellie engage in a cat-and-mouse chase, in which Rachel isn’t only trying to escape, but get Gage to safety. Though she does succeed with the latter, she’s bested in the end when Ellie stabs Rachel in the back, which doesn’t just begin the process for a slow and painful death, but forces Rachel to live out her worst fear moments before dying.

Throughout the film, Rachel is haunted by the memory of her sister Zelda’s death, for which she blames herself. Zelda suffered from spinal meningitis, which left her bedridden and jealous of her sister; and after Rachel inadvertently caused Zelda’s death, she spent the rest of her life not only struggling to talk about death, but fearing that she might become an invalid like her sister. So, in the end, with a kitchen knife plunged deep in her back, Rachel’s nightmare comes true; suffering and unable to move as she slowly dies.

Related: Does Pet Sematary Have An After-Credits Scene?

Thankfully, she manages to get Gage to safety before her death, handing him off to Louis, who locks the toddler in their car. Gage is prompted to keep the doors locked, no matter what, after which time Louis proceeds to the Pet Sematary to prevent Ellie from burying his wife. However, given the doomed nature of this entire story, Louis isn’t only too late, but is ultimately killed by Rachel, who then helps Ellie bury Louis in the ground, resurrecting him. In the final scene, Gage is still alone in the car, when he sees his undead family exiting the woods and moving towards him. Louis puts his face to the window, stares at his son, and as the film cuts to black, the sound of the car unlocking beeps off-screen, leaving the toddler’s fate unspecified, but obvious.

How Pet Sematary’s Ending Is Different To The Original

Aside from Jud and Rachel’s deaths, Pet Sematary‘s ending is a far cry from the original – and all the differences are a product of the film’s first major change: Ellie’s death. In the original Pet Sematary ending, there is a sense of dour victory, with Louis believing that, despite all of the tragedies he’s faced, he mostly undid the damage he’d done. Of course, following the story’s nihilistic theme, that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

In the original Pet Sematary, Louis does manage to successfully kill both Gage and Church by injecting them with morphine (this ties back to his medical background, as well as the very reason the Creeds moved to Ludlow in the first place), and Ellie has, at this point, out of harm’s way, staying with her grandparents. So, in a sense, he succeeded in eliminating the story’s perceived villains and protecting at least one member of his family. But the villain in Pet Sematary was never the reanimated corpses. The villain is the burial ground; and by extension, the Wendigo. Still, he might have had a chance at surviving had he not buried his wife, who ultimately – and unsurprisingly – returns from the dead. In the novel, it’s up to the reader to determine whether or not she kills Louis, though every event leading up to that moment suggests she will; while in the original Pet Sematary adaptation, Louis is presumably killed off-screen, given the fact that Rachel is holding a knife and Louis is heard screaming.

In this newest Pet Sematary adaptation, the entire Creed family succumbs to the cursed burial ground (assuming the worst for Gage in that final shot), whereas Ellie, at the very least, made it out alive in the original. And a key takeaway with this version of Pet Sematary is that it doesn’t necessarily reinvent the story, but rearrange it. As a result, it allows a few twists and turns to differentiate it from the source material, while still staying true to King’s original idea. In fact, as frustrating as it might have been for audiences, and even the film’s directors, to have the Ellie/Gage twist spoiled in the trailers, it allowed the film to pull the rug out from underneath the audience at the very last moment.

There’s a shred of hope at the end that Gage has a shot at making it out alive, but in a way, his fate is even worse than the original. Throughout Pet Sematary, there are several incidents that tease harm coming his way, only to have him saved at the last moment. So, by the time it’s revealed that he doesn’t have a shot at surviving after all, and that he didn’t just trade places with Ellie earlier on, but with his Louis’ character at the end of the original, Pet Sematary officially establishes itself as the official feel-bad movie of the year, waiting till the last possible second – when there’s still technically hope – to save the final death for Pet Sematary‘s most innocent and helpless character.

More: Every Stephen King Movie Ranked, From Worst To Best


2019-04-05 03:04:10

Danny Salemme

Pet Sematary Review: Sometimes Stephen King Movies Are Just Decent

In the wake of the ongoing Stephen Kingaissance in film and television, it was probably inevitable that Pet Sematary – one of the author’s most popular and (in)famous horror stories ever – would eventually find its way back to the big screen. The book, which King wrote in 1983, is far from a stranger to cinematic interpretations, and was previously adapted by director Mary Lambert in 1989. Where that version was relatively faithful to the original novel, this new version takes some major liberties, for both good and bad. Pet Sematary captures the bruality of King’s source material, but its attempts to add shocking twists to the original narrative yield mixed results.

The new Pet Sematary starts off the same as previous iterations, following the Creed family as they relocate to rural Maine – on the outskirts of a small town called Ludlow – for their patriarch Louis’ (Jason Clarke) new job at a university hospital. Shortly after, their young daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) discovers the existence of a nearby pet cemetery (misspelled “Sematary” on its sign), and befriends their kindly new neighbor, the widower Jud Crandall (John Lithgow). When tragedy strikes the Creed family, Jud attempts to help Louis by revealing the dangerous truth about what lies beyond the pet cemetery in the woods – namely, an ancient burial ground with the power to resurrect the dead, but at a terrible cost.

Written by Jeff Buhler (The Midnight Meat Train) from a screen story by Matt Greenberg (1408), Pet Sematary allows Buhler to further explore themes about the horror of parenthood, much like his did earlier this year with his script for the evil child thriller The Prodigy. Those aren’t the only similarities between the two horror movies, either. Both Pet Sematary and The Prodigy knowingly attempt to subvert expectations; in the case of the former, it nods to infamous moments from previous versions of the story before taking things in a different direction. The trailers for Pet Sematary have already spoiled one of its biggest twists on King’s novel, but the film has other tricks up its sleeves, especially during the final act. Its conclusion aside (more on that later), these changes don’t necessarily make the movie better or worse than the book and Lambert’s adaptation – just different.

For the most part, however, Pet Sematary works as a streamlined retelling of King’s original story. Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes) maintain a study pace throughout the film, and are equally efficient in the way they build up to the more gruesome developments in the second half through a series of ominous and foreboding moments (in particular, a ghastly incident where Louis tries and fails to save a student who was hit by a car). The movie’s scary sequences are similarly sturdy in their construction, if not particularly ground-breaking, and are buoyed by the quietly unsettling colors of Overlord DP Laurie Rose’s cinematography, in combination with Sinister composer Christopher Young’s more overtly threatening score. Pet Sematary‘s cast, which includes Amy Seimetz as the Creed family’s matriarch Rachel, likewise inspire sympathy for the film’s characters (and their often ill-conceived decisions) through their performances.

Unfortunately, the movie stumbles when it tries to change things up (again) during the climax. In its efforts to deliver a gut-punch of a finale that’s even gloomier than the conclusion to King’s source material, the new Pet Sematary winds up sacrificing some of the novel’s thematic substance. While it doesn’t leave quite the nihilistic aftertaste of the ending to The Prodigy, Buhler’s script nevertheless loses track of the story’s overarching moral about the suffocating power of unprocessed grief and trauma in its final act. This, in turn, muddles Louis’ arc and lessens the emotional impact of subplots like Rachel’s morbid backstory (which involves the death of her sister Zelda, when she was a child). It doesn’t help that things get a little silly in the final third, making it all the more difficult to appreciate the gravity of what transpires.

At the end of the day, Pet Sematary falls somewhere in the middle on the scale of Stephen King movies. It’s effectively creepy and well-acted overall, but lacks the heart and substance of the best-received King adaptations in recent years (specifically, IT and Gerald’s Game). At the same time, some people will undoubtedly appreciate the way the film changes things up from King’s novel more than others, and should further enjoy the small references to King’s other major works included here (like Cujo and, yes, IT again). It might not be a must-see for general audiences, but horror buffs and King fans will want to give this one a look at some point. Sometimes dead is better when it comes to King’s properties, but this is one of the exceptions.

Pet Sematary begins playing in U.S. theaters on Thursday evening, April 4. It is 101 minutes long and is rated R for horror violence, bloody images, and some language.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!


2019-04-04 07:04:21

Sandy Schaefer

Does Pet Sematary Have An After-Credits Scene?

You may not want to be buried there, but should hang around after Pet Sematary 2019 for an after-credits scene? The new horror movie is a readaptation of Stephen King’s 1983 novel, widely regarded as one of his scariest works. Pet Sematary had previously been translated to the big screen by Mary Lambert in 1989 (with a more violent sequel released in 1992), but this new version from directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer is a very different affair.

The core story of Pet Sematary remains the same: a doctor and his family move to a remote house in Maine with a woods hiding an innocuous pet sematary (sic) and a more demonic burial ground behind, and a main road frequented by speeding trucks up front. First, the family’s dead cat Church is brought back by the Wendigo that haunts the woods and then, after she’s hit by a truck, daughter Ellie. But, as Jud (Fred Gwynne in the original, John Lithgow in the remake) famously says, “sometimes dead is better“.

Related: Every Stephen King Movie Ranked, From Worst To Best

The new Pet Sematary diverges from the book and previous movie in some startling ways as it goes on, leaving the question of whether it’s setting up a potential sequel. But if there is going to be a modern Pet Sematary 2, the new movie doesn’t explicitly seed one: Pet Sematary 2019 does not have an after-credits scene.

However, that doesn’t mean you should just rush out after the chilling ending. Over the credits, a cover of The Ramones’ “Pet Sematary” by Starcrawler plays. It’s not as interesting as the original, but worth at least one listen.

The song, which played over Pet Sematary 1989’s credits, was written by Dee Dee Ramone after meeting King, a big fan of the band, and released alongside the film on the album Brain Drain. Although it wasn’t positively received by critics, the song became a cult hit thanks to the film, hence its return here. Starcrawler is an LA-based band who last year released their first, self-titled album.

To include something so overtly referencing the original Pet Sematary, even in the credits, is an interesting move by the remake, although it’s not the only time it tips the hat; the deaths of Ellie and Jud are both signposted with fake-out references to their counterpart moments in the 1989 movie. Beyond King, the film certainly isn’t above breaking the fourth wall in other ways either; John Lithgow nods towards his role as Winston Churchill in The Crown.

While there isn’t an after-credits scene for Pet Sematary, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of a sequel. The original movie got one, after all, and horror franchises are proven money-spinning hits. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has said that, while focusing just on this film for now, there is definitely room for a Pet Sematary prequel exploring previous uses of the burial ground (and likely expanding more on the Wendingo spirit).

Next: Pet Sematary Remake Directors Wish the Marketing Hadn’t Spoiled So Much


2019-04-04 04:04:25

Alex Leadbeater

What To Expect From A Pet Sematary 2

Will there be a Pet Sematary 2 and, if so, when will it release and what story will it tell? The latest Stephen King adaptation is Pet Sematary, from directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer and starring Jason Clarke and John Lithgow.

The film follows Louis Creed (Clarke), who moves his family to Ludlow, Maine to start a new life more focused on the children, Ellie and Gage. A discovery that the woods behind the new house is haunted by a spirit known as Wendigo that can bring things back to life, however, slowly spirals the Creeds life; first Ellie’s cat Church is resurrected as a violent, twisted shadow of its former self, then the daughter becomes a scalpel-wielding murderer who wants to turn the whole family over to death.

Related: Every Stephen King Movie Ranked, From Worst To Best

In a similar vein to fellow 1980s horror remake Evil Dead, Pet Sematary is a darker twist on the previous iteration with more visceral, sticker gore, and that’s earned it strong reviews following its SXSW premiere. Naturally, the question becomes whether there’ll be a Pet Sematary 2. Here’s everything we know about a potential sequel.

Pet Sematary 2 Isn’t Confirmed Yet (And Will Depend On Box Office)

First things first, it’s worth noting that – at the time of writing – Pet Sematary 2 hasn’t been officially announced yet. However, should the new movie prove to be a box office hit (which, given its $11.5 million budget and opening weekend projections doubling that, seems likely), then it wouldn’t be surprising for a sequel to be greenlit. After all, while dead may be better, dead doesn’t have to be forever.

Pet Sematary 1989 Got A Sequel (With No Stephen King Connection)

While Stephen King never wrote a sequel to Pet Sematary, there is still precedent for an expansion of the story. The 1989 movie spawned a sequel in 1992 – directed by a returning Mary Lambert and starring a post-Terminator Edward Furlong – that picked up three years later with a new family moving to Ludlow and getting wrapped up in the Wendigo curse, this time by way of Furlong’s dead mother. It’s a pretty typical sequel for the time – aside from a couple of references to the Creeds, there’s not actually much narrative connection to the original – but, while not as well-regarded as the original, it’s far from a dud follow-up; the sheer inventiveness in the kills and an unhinged Clancy Brown performance make it worthy enough a recommendation for horror fans.

This definitely leaves the grave open for Pet Sematary‘s reboot to rise again, although don’t expect a similar story approach…

Pet Sematary 2 Could Be A Prequel

The end of Pet Sematary 2019 is certainly open for further exploration, although if there is a another movie, don’t expect it to pick up with the Creeds in their creepy new status quo. Speaking after the film’s SXSW premiere, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said he would actually be more interested in making a prequel to Pet Sematary.

There’s a lot of fertile ground here. Obviously, there’s the Wendigo spirit, only lightly teased in the new movie, and its driving out of the native Americans. More intriguing, though, is the case of Timmy Baterman. In both the book and original movie, Louis Creed isn’t the first to resurrect a human: Timmy was a soldier who died in World War II and was buired by his father in the woods, only to come back as a monster; the townspeople – including Jud (Lithgow) – formed a mob that led to Timmy and Bill dying as their house burned down (who set the fire varies by medium). There’s no mention of the Batermans in the new movie, possibly because they’re being saved for a later film.

When Would Pet Sematary 2 Release?

Pet Sematary was announced in October 2017, shot over Summer 2018, and premiered in March 2019. Assuming a sequel was greenlit shortly after the original, a Pet Sematary 2 could release as early as Fall 2020, although that assumes a pretty straight run up.

We’ll update this page with more information about Pet Sematary 2 as it arises.

Next: Pet Sematary Remake Directors Wish the Marketing Hadn’t Spoiled So Much


2019-04-04 04:04:22

Alex Leadbeater