With so much praise and excitement accompanying this new retelling of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, its final resting place sees this film lying near the bottom of Stephen King film adaptations.
We at the Young Folks had the pleasure of interviewing Pet Sematary actors Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz. While their performances and dedication to their characters and craft were terrific, the film could not escape the all too common horror tropes. Being a huge fan of the original 1989 film, I was as excited as anyone when it came to seeing this haunted story on the big screen again. But what could have been a film that delved deeper into the aspects of the creation of the Sematary and physiological toll it takes on a person, the film chose to skip that and go through the conventional jump scare trope.
For those unaware of the lore of the original Pet Sematary. The story focuses on a family moving into this quiet town looking for a fresh start, only to realize their new home resides on haunted ground that brings what was once dead back to life. The only catch is what comes back to haunt you. In this particular case, a loss of a child leads to this family’s horror. So while the film certainly catches you off guard with some of its scares, they come and go with no real substance to them, where even the performances by Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz weren’t enough to fill the gaps left behind by the script.
Take Clarke’s character Louis. He is a doctor that firmly believes that there is no life after death. Yet at no point in the film do we see his character have a moment of reflection when he sees the Sematary perform its magic. That character trait that would have been great to flesh out was just left there to wither away.
Jason summed it up best when he said the following about his character. “What kind of father would Louis be if he knew of the place in the woods and wouldn’t try to bring their child back.”
But instead of the film delving into that dilemma, it vaguely grazes it and instead relies on Clarke’s superb acting to evoke it. But that alone is not enough. Even Clarke himself spoke about how his character Louis was out of his mind for most of the film.
“I’m not going into another one (horror movie) for at least a couple years cause it’s exhausting. It’s really hard work. If you watch Louis, he is out of his mind for most of this movie. He is in a very stressed place.”
What hurts most is hearing the love these two actors had for Stephen King’s books and specifically Pet Sematary.
“I mean, well for the little kid in me, being a part of the Stephen King canon you know? Being a part of his universe and feeling like giving my little self a high five. Like we did it kid” said Seimetz.
Seimetz character also had a very compelling childhood backstory with her sister. That instead of developing or delving into it, it was left as cannon fodder for future jump scares. It was a creepy backstory for the sake of having a creepy backstory.
The film even boasts a twist of sorts that ends up again falling flat because the trailers gave the twist away. So with that and multiple plot holes, Pet Sematary is a film that was better off left in 1989.