Pet Sematary review: Slowly gnaws at your nerves
Pet Sematary is a standard fare but is engaging too.
By: Troy Ribeiro/IANS
Critic's Rating: 2.5/5
Friday 12 April 2019
Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer
Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jete Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Lucas Lavoie, John Lithgow
Pet Sematary, a horror fantasy, is a remake of the 1989 film of the same name. The story is based on a horror novel authored by Stephen King, which in fact was inspired by the short story, The Monkey's Paw, written by W.W. Jacobs in 1902.
The narrative explores the ramifications of grief, the choices people make when they are hurting and the irony of good intentions.
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The film begins this way: In search for a quieter life, Doctor Louis (Jason Clarke) from Boston moves into a large house at the edge of the woods in rural Maine. He is accompanied by his family which includes his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Jete Laurence), son Gage and his daughter's pet cat Church.
After the family moves into their new home, Ellie finds a way down a path behind their house, which leads to a strange cemetery which is named Pet Sematary. Also, during the course of the day she befriends an elderly man Jud (John Lithgow) who later becomes a close family friend.
Jud is well-versed with the area and is aware of a burial ground beyond the cemetery, where the dead can be brought back to life.
So when Ellie's cat Church is killed in a fatal accident, Jud who is, by now, very fond of Ellie and does not want to see her sad, directs Doctor Louis to this mystical burial ground. Naturally the cat is back, but not the same. The scares are few but standard which are dramatically forced and rarely effective.
This is all part of the first act. From here, the film just becomes creepier. Yet the film lacks those important tension building moments.
Then, on Ellie's ninth birthday, she too meets with an accident and her father then decides to bury her, where he had buried Church. And from thence, reminding us that Ellie is not the same, the narrative gathers momentum, albeit a short termed one.
While the film is engaging, the directors do not seem to have invested any time in making these characters believable, likeable or sympathetic. The entire narrative simply progresses perfunctorily at a snail's pace. The last act simply feels rushed. But nevertheless, while this film slowly gnaws at your nerves, the end scene clearly ignites an appetite for a sequel, which I am so looking forward to.