The best remakes of films are inspired by already strong sources, then innovate enough to justify their existence. The worst, on the other hand, ask the question "Why? Pet Sematary, based on a Stephen King novel previously adapted in 1989, is somewhere in the middle.
Technically speaking, Pet Sematary, directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, has a sparkle that the original film (which has not aged very well in some ways) is lacking. The woods surrounding the Creed family home, where much of the story unfolds, are filled with lovingly photographed trees that murmur, whisper and scream, as well as haze that is diffused every time. that it is necessary to create an extra-sinister atmosphere.
Even though Creed – dad Louis (Jason Clarke), mom Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and children Ellie (thrown Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) – moved from Boston to rural Maine to enjoy a higher quality of life, the place feels instantly threatening. One of the first things they find out about their new property is that it includes the multi-generation, multi-generation, city-owned pet cemetery, and that things are starting to go away. descending.
From the beginning, Pet Sematary is fighting against the fact that the book and the previous movie (a fairly faithful adaptation, with a script written by King himself) are already extremely known, especially the biggest story beats. We know that Jud (John Lithgow, Fred Gwynne in the original), his elderly neighbor, sad-eyed and sad-eyed, will let Louis know of the existence of a very special part of the forest where the buried objects will come back to life and that of Ellie's beloved cat, victim of what is essentially an 18-wheel drive through the countryside, will show why do not a miracle so happy. We also know that the same road will claim one of the youngest Creeds and that a devastated Louis will make a terrible choice that he will soon regret.
Unfortunately, we are also already aware of Pet SemataryThe most audacious reworking of the original story, as it was fully revealed in one of the caravans: This time, Ellie, 9, dies and returns, rather than the toddler Gage. This decision has advantages, the main one being that Laurence is a talented child actor who skilfully embodies "a cute cute" and "hell handling the scalpel". Thanks to her, it makes sense that the film spends a little more time with Ellie after she left the grave, while her behavior was going from strange to homicidal. The disadvantage of expanding Ellie's role is that Pet Sematary is then stripped of one of his most purely horrible characters, Undead Gage. Spooky tweens are shoveled in horror movies, but spooky little ones who can barely giggle "da-da" while having the power to decimate adult adults are far very rare.
Some other elements must be reduced to make room for more Ellie, which means that some support players suffer the immediate effect (Victor Pascow, played by Obssa Ahmed, feels more like a ghost than the spiritual guide than it is supposed to be) or is totally eliminated. You have to watch very closely the fact that Rachel's family do not like Louis, which is a great secondary plot in the original story – although that does not mean that his family is not included because Horror fans would probably riot in the streets if any Pet Sematary ignored Rachel's persistent fear of her sister, Zelda. (Unfortunately, the character is not as scary here as the 1989 performance that has launched innumerable nightmares, all greeting Zelda's original actor, Andrew Hubatsek, wherever you are.)
Really, however, the less scary Zelda is part of a much bigger problem, which is that Pet Sematary it's not that scary. Although she draws her emotional weight from the terrible notion of a parent who is the victim of a child's death, she does not really interfere with the kind of larger ideas that have propelled other recent horror movies. on families, as We and Hereditary. We have a big conversation about the disagreement between Louis and Rachel about what will happen after your death – he's an atheist, she believes in a life after death – he seems to want to try to hint at the deeper meanings of the film, then Louis throw aside his "rational doctor". "Man" as soon as his judgment is corrupted by sorrow.
There is also something else at work, which breaks up when Pet Sematary decides that he has to offer more exhibits on this cursed cemetery beyond "the land is sour". Louis passes every five minutes to googling the local history, and we get some information from Jud, resident for life, who knows that the "local tribes" fled the woods previous generations and does not have never returned. He also once buried his childhood pet, you-know-where, and realizes how well the earth controls anyone who comes into contact with his power. It makes sense, if not, why would he encourage his new neighbor to bring a cat back from the dead, while perfectly knowing the chaos that would ensue?
I was almost hoping Pet Sematary would find the way to make the character of Jud secretly nasty, but it is not the last act of the film that finally gush. And since it was pretty much the only thing in the movie that surprised me a bit, I will not ruin it here, of course.
Pet Sematary opens tomorrow, April 5th.
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