Cinemaster Score: 6.7/10
Pet Sematary (2019) is – in short – an almost good film. This modern reboot of an esteemed cult classic had oh so much potential and only barely fell short of greatness. Each component is good and does add up to a greater whole, which is easy to see all the way up to the middle of the third act. The decisions in casting are the best in the horror genre in years and the performances are remarkable. The transition of characters to this differing adaptation is great, with lines that go alongside them well. Kolsch and Widmyer (Directors) do a good job in making sure the movie is enjoyably similar to the source material while still changing it up. The aforementioned pieces in this puzzle of a film work together almost until the credits roll. Almost. Pet Sematary (2019) gets late into the final act when it throws in a looped up ending. Without spoiling anything – the end is unexpected and fits into the movie. But, it felt somewhat rushed and made the ending anticlimactic. It’s a finale that would either make or break the film and (unfortunately) this time around the latter applies – bringing a great film down to really good at best.
Acting; Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz put in the best performances of their career, crafting believable characters who struggle through grief. Clarke conveys a certain amount of unpredictability in Louis Creed and provides a raw performance that won’t soon be forgotten. He perfectly demonstrates a man pushed to his limits, as his character gradually loses his sense of sanity. Seimetz as Rachel Creed is just as poignant and believable, creating a relatable character that we struggle along with. You feel for these characters because they are so visceral and real – and it makes the experience all the better. John Lithgow is also excellent here as Jud Crandall, acting as a mentor and friend to the Creed family. Their dynamic is one of the highlights of the film. Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed is another bright spot – with her character being both heartbreaking and terrifying – and more than holds her own for her age. Pet Sematary (2019) has some of the best acting in any movie and it should not be overlooked.
Script; This reboot has a very interesting script to say the least. The film goes against the grain when it comes to modern adaptations of novels. Most of them like to keep their films practically identical to their inspirations. In Pet Sematary (2019) though, there is plenty of straying into uniqueness. Even in spite of the changes, the script is faithful to Stephen King’s book and is altogether well-written. Pet Sematary (2019) has plenty of moments that are smaller accuracies to the book and are satisfying to recognize. As a bonus to those there are also many minor easter eggs to keep an ear out for. To top it all off are the scriptual additives. What’s new to what we’re used to is, well, okay. What these characters say fits the film’s tone well but there isn’t anything especially great about it. Henceforth the script as a whole is good but not much more than that.
Characters; As mentioned earlier, the character work in Pet Sematary (2019) is top-notch, with the acting involved being the best part. The Creeds are a tight-knit family just as they were in the book and are much more interesting to watch than in the original. Louis and Rachel Creed in particular are fleshed out well, being relatable and captivating in their turmoil. Judson Crandall is also (in our opinion) a much more accurate portrayal to that of the book. While his role was iconic in the elder film, John Lithgow’s more subdued performance makes his emotions all the more real. So to reiterate, the relationships built between these characters is substantial and carries a heavy emotional weight that makes the movie all the better. It’s that weight being what separates Pet Sematary (2019) from most horror flicks out there today.
Direction; Opposite to the recognition of Mary Lambert being the average at best director for Pet Sematary (1989), we have Kevin Kolsch and Devin Widmyer. Another couple of names that aren’t so commonly known. Unlike Lambert 30 years prior, Kolsch and Widmyer have a few decent flicks to their names. The duo went into this project with big plans in mind and their goals are clear throughout the film. Intent on both surprising and horrifying audiences, the pair accomplished exactly that. As a horror movie in general, Pet Sematary (2019) is as horrifying as the pair desired. Although, within the name of “Pet Sematary” it is very surprising. That being said, Kolsch and Widmyer fit the scheme with their styles. They did take some major risks but it seems they only worked well about half the time.
Story; Ah yes, the story. Pet Sematary (2019) has an intricately designed story. One that is best when you stop wanting it to be a remake. For this ride is a new one. Those who desire a carbon copy retelling of the book transitioned to the silver screen – that is completely understandable. Notwithstanding that what was made is not that at all. This film went down a path we hadn’t seen before. The story has clear remnants from the book but it goes its own way. That being said the story is pretty good. It captures audiences with interest and holds them tight until the end. The concept is what we’re familiar with but the path it goes down feels like a great alternative timeline to the book. It also has some solid twists throughout. But then there’s the end of the movie. An ending that fits the tone of the film but was really risky and it’s difficult to say it paid off in full.
Enjoyment; While some may see this film and not find an uplifting experience, it is enjoyable purely for its beautiful display of pain and horror. Everything – from the set design, and acting to cinematography, direction, and visual distinctiveness, – is tailored to near perfection. Even Pet Sematary (2019)’s jump scares (while a primitive attempt at horror) are scarily effective thanks to the excellent sound design and production. Pet Sematary (2019) pulls you in with all these great aspects and makes for a very entertaining piece of horror cinema. While you may not be having the time of your life, you will likely have a great time thanks to the huge amount of work that went into this movie.
David: “For me, Pet Sematary (2019) was a fun ride. I love the genre as a whole – this film most definitely included. It has all the elements that make a great horror flick. But the ending was definitely a form of terrible buzzkill in an otherwise great movie.”
JP: “Pet Sematary (2019) was a great experience for me, leaving a lasting impression after I left. While it was generally a great movie, the ending kind of ruined it for me. Other than that, Pet Sematary (2019) is a solid movie that I will definitely be watching again.”