MOVIE REVIEW: Ending sours the soil of 'Pet Sematary'

Jason Clarke stars in "Pet Sematary," a remake of the 1989 film based on a Stephen King novel. | Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures 

Sometimes, dead is better.

Try telling that to Hollywood executives nowadays, who see dollar signs every time they think of a remake, no matter how forgotten the source material. “Pet Sematary” isn’t forgotten, per say, but it’s not like anyone was asking for this remake.

Many say the book is possibly Stephen King’s most terrifying and I will take their word for it, but both film adaptations – the 1989 one and this one in theaters now – don’t live up to the hype.

Although, like I said with “Dumbo,” I am not a fan of remakes in general, I will usually not complain to see somebody slap a new coat of paint onto a property and clean it up a bit. “Pet Sematary” definitely needed that. The original was unnecessarily campy and had an overwhelming ’80s style – it came out three years after “Maximum Overdrive.”

This reimagining – directed by the Wikipedia-less duo of Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer – is better than the original in mostly every way. Much like “It” a few years ago, it just seems like new camera techniques and storytelling can remain closer to the source material than the original renditions surprisingly.

What is strange is this movie makes some changes from the book that actually make the movie better, except for the end but I won’t spoil that, even though it spoiled my entire watching experience.

Performances from Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow carry the movie, along with a good showing from child actress Jete Laurence. It is hard for the movie to keep the suspense going on a plot that pretty much everyone knew already, but it does a decent job at spinning the tale.

That is probably one of my main issues with the movie – other than the ending – is that yes, it’s been 30 years since the original so a new viewing audience might not know what the story is about, but the film’s marketers showed the twist in the trailers.

I am getting more and more tired of studios showing so many trailers for a film that when you see the movie, you have already seen a quarter of the scenes. Give me one good trailer and that’s all I need, not 20 and don’t show them six months before the movie’s release or I will sleep through them in the theater, like I do now.

Anyway, off my soapbox and on to what I liked and didn’t like.

What I liked:

• Lithgow is incredible in these old man roles he has been playing the past few years, like in “Interstellar.” Here, he is fantastic as Judd Crandall, and even made me laugh when the girl, Ellie, tells him how her cat got his name. For fans of Netflix’s “The Crown” like me, it’s a nice wink to the audience.

• The choice to use the girl as the one who comes back from the dead instead of the boy toddler like in the original works much better as you can believe she is saying and doing these awful things as opposed to a 2-year-old.

• The portrayal of Rachel (Seimetz) is a hard one, especially dealing with her backstory of thinking she killed her sister, but the film does well in telling it and Seimetz is admirable in the role.

What I didn’t like:

• Already mentioned the garbage move to put the twist in the trailers, but the ending is really bad. After spending the whole movie one-upping the original, the ending goes for a “comedic” turn that is just dumb. While King’s original ending wasn’t great – because he is historically awful at endings anyway – this one is not an improvement.

Reason for watching:

If you want to see a decent suspense movie and if you somehow didn’t see any of the trailers, then you will be in for a good twist. However, if you have young children, don’t bring them to the movie like some people did when I went to see it.

Rating: R for horror violence, bloody images and some language.

My score: 68/100

Bishop writes for Stillwater News Press, a CNHI News Service publication.

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