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| 26 March 2019 | Reply

Written by Matt Greenburg & Jeff Buhler from the novel by Stephen King
Directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer
Starring Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Laurence
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

It’s a precarious business, remaking a favourite – some may say classic – film from many people’s formative years. Breath easy, fans of the original, you will be thrilled to know that the excellent (and excellently camp) titular song by The Ramones features over the end credits in a new version by a band called Starcrawler, whoever they are. There may have been a riot had it not been featured.

The movie is pretty good, too.

Pet Sematary was made first time round in 1989 by director Mary Lambert from a screenplay by author Stephen King, working from his own 1983 novel, and is regarded as a slightly camp and creepy story about a family who move out of the big smoke only to find their sprawling property includes an ancient native American resurrection ground, policed by the mythical soul-munching creature The Windigo.

Matt Greenburg and Jeff Buhler, writers of this latest incarnation, have gone back to the source material to craft a film which is very similar, but has a couple of major differences both to King’s book and to Lambert’s film, with the emphasis here on ramping the tension sky high and jolting as many scares out of viewers as possible.

The good news is that despite the similarities to the 1989 version, this latest Pet Sematary is still an exciting ride, and full of jumps and shocks – not to mention some uncomfortable laughs, especially after the family cat Church and daughter Ellie ‘come back.’ (Hey – the book has been out for 36 years and the previous film for almost exactly three decades, I assume spoiler alerts are redundant)

One would think that after the family moggie came back vicious and mangy, that Dad would have learnt his lesson. Nope – post-burial-and-resurrection Ellie (played by eleven-year-old Jeté Laurence, who immerses in the nightmarish role with such psychotic glee that we only hope there was a child psychologist on set to help her through the experience) provides many of the movie’s shocks, cringes, proper scares and – let’s be honest – a few laughs as well.

King is the master of creepy, scary tales, though not all movie adaptations of his stories have been successful. This one works in spades, thankfully, even though the blurring of lines between madness and nightmare is, well, blurry and unelaborated at times, and the ending is pure camp comedy.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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