Pet Sematary (15)



Horror (2019)
101mins US

Starring: John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz, Jason Clarke
Director: Dennis Widmyer, Kevin Kolsch
Writer(s): Jeff Buhler
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Chicago doctor Louis Creed accepts a teaching position at the University of Maine so he can spend more quality time with his wife Rachel and children Ellie and Gage. The family relocates to the sleepy rural community of Ludlow to a property which includes acres of forest. This vast backyard incorporates a spooky burial site for the town's pets. When Ellie's beloved cat Church is killed by a passing lorry, Louis accompanies elderly neighbour Jud Crandall into the forest to bury the animal.

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LondonNet Film Review
Pet Sematary (15)

Blame it on It. After the critical and commercial success of director Andy Muschietti's 2017 horror thriller, skilfully adapted from Stephen King's novel, there was a pungent air of inevitability to filmmakers plundering the writer's vast back catalogue. Penned in 1983, Pet Sematary is one of King's most unsettling works of fiction, exploring the devastating consequences of life after death for a family of four, whose home borders burial ground once used by indigenous peoples...

Pet Sematary. Copyright: 2018 Paramount Pictures. Caption: John Lithgow as Jud and Jete Laurence as Ellie in Pet Sematary, directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. Photo: Kerry Hayes. All Rights Reserved.A bloodthirsty 1989 film version was a disappointment, reducing morally complex and chilling text to a succession of jump scares. Thirty years later, Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer co-direct a remake that remains largely faithful to the source material but lacks the verve, creativity and imagination to completely justify its reanimation. The ending of this Pet Sematary diverges from its predecessor, leaving a narrative door ajar for a sequel, and screenwriter Jeff Buhler sacrifices the family's eight-year-old daughter in a centrepiece road accident rather than a cherubic toddler son. In most other respects, the revamp stumbles down a familiar path, enlivened by a twinkly-eyed supporting performance from John Lithgow as a wise old coot, who counsels against playing god. "Sometimes, dead is better," he growls. If only directors Kolsch and Widmyer had heeded these sage words and left their plans on a mortuary slab.

Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) accepts a teaching position at the University of Maine so he can spend quality time with his emotionally brittle wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their children Ellie (Jete Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie). The family relocate from Boston to the sleepy rural community of Ludlow, moving into a property surrounded by acres of lush forest. This sprawling backyard includes a spooky burial site for the town's pets. When Ellie's beloved cat Church is killed by a passing juggernaut, Louis accompanies elderly neighbour Jud Crandall (Lithgow) into the forest to bury the animal. They venture off the beaten track into mystical swampland where Louis places Church's lifeless body in the ground. Later that night, the pet slinks back into Ellie's closet. However, the feline possesses a mean, vindictive spirit and threatens to harm the family. When a second tragedy befalls the Creeds, Louis faces an agonising moral dilemma. "Once you feel the pull of that place, you make the sweetest sounding reasons to go back," warns Jud.

Pet Sematary leaches dramatic momentum in copious flashbacks to Rachel's nightmarish childhood. Ellie's unfortunate demise is orchestrated with aplomb in agonising slow-motion but directors Kolsch and Widmyer fail to orchestrate satisfying shocks to whiten their audiences' knuckles. Clarke and Seimetz are poorly served by an emaciated script that plods on regardless, towards an inevitably grim conclusion for everyone and everything with a faint pulse.

- Sam Cannon

Pet Sematary. Copyright: 2018 Paramount Pictures. Caption: John Lithgow as Jud and Jete Laurence as Ellie in Pet Sematary, directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. Photo: Kerry Hayes. All Rights Reserved.


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