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Euthanized Scares

Pet Sematary, based on the Stephen King novel, follows a family that moves to rural Maine. After their cat dies, their kind, but troubled neighbor (John Lithgow) helps the husband/father (Jason Clarke) bury the cat on a haunted burial ground. Soon after the cat comes back from the dead, the daughter is killed in a car accident involving a semi truck. In grief, the father buries the daughter in the same graveyard. But what comes back isn't his daughter.

Pet Sematary Review

I would say that a re-adaptation of a Stephen King novel sounds like a bad idea, but I loved part 1 of IT and I'm just as excited for part 2 in September. Yet, something still didn't feel right about this Pet Sematary adaptation. The trailers smelled of stale, predictable plot structure with bland, familiar scares. And I think the trailers presented exactly what we got.

This film sounded like it was getting a lot of hype coming into opening weekend, some lauding the scares and atmosphere. I would argue that the predictable plot structure (opens with happy family driving down the road to their new home to light strings, then comes the plodding, formulaic atmosphere build) and paint-by-numbers of the original adaptation's scares can't be saved by a few kids in paper mache animal masks.

I will say that the Zelda scenes were particularly effective, using sound to powerfully deliver her presence, but they aren't enough to salvage a horror film that was designed for fear and failed to deliver much over yawns. The film could have also chased the concept of grief, but we've recently had a film tackle that flawlessly in The Babadook. Pet Sematary pales in comparison to that film's metaphors and symbolism.

I'm more upset by the hype I'd heard than the film itself. That hype got me to a late showing opening night to make sure I got a glimpse of it. And the lack of delivery on that hype just made me disappointed. Perhaps in a vacuum, I could have appreciated it more, but I just don't think it was special even with a clearer mind.

Still can't wait for IT in September!

Horror Rating System

Horror Qualifier: 10/10

Horror Quality: 5/10

Film Quality: 5/10

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