I really wanted to like this movie, after all when the first version of this movie came out in 1989 it scared me so bad I almost walked out of the theater. That creepy little kid freaked me and my best friend out and I had watched Texas chain saw massacre with no problem. There was just something about this story that was unsettling. So when I first saw the trailer for the remake I was syked! Here was a chance to fix the flaws in the first movie. Zelda’s bad makeup, Pascal’s strangely designed character (he can appear to Louis, talk to the daughter in dreams, but only suggest things to Rachael?) and the greatly improved special effects (No more tiny doll) this movie is going to rock, right?
Oh man was I wrong. First thing to go in this movie was the father figure relationship between Jud and Louis Creed. While in the first movie there was chemistry between Fred Gwynne and Dale Midkiff I missed that connection in John Lithgow and Jason Clarke. Don’t get me wrong. John Lithgow is an amazing actor, but this was not his movie. I wanted that Maine drawl, that country gravitas that Fred Gwynne brought to the role and it was just lacking in this film. Jason Clarke Did a great job of playing a father slowly driven mad by grief and loss, but the final scenes, where he has lost everything, I simply did not see a man driven beyond his limits. When Fred Gwynne kills church and delivers the line, “go on, lie down, play dead, BE DEAD!!!!” it is over the top and not subtle but it is also clear he has been pushed. When Jason Clarke lays down with his child returned from the dead, the look in the eye is fantastic, the trickle of a tear says it all. ‘I’ve made a terrible mistake and I don’t know what to do.’ The story was cut to much and they were not give time to develop a meaningful relationship. Too much of Jud’s story was cut out or cut to snip-its of print story’s Louis searched on the internet to save time. Rachel’s back story was treated the same way. So now none of the characters actions were given gravitas. Was story sacrificed for special effect budget or was this simply poor editing?
I wasn’t scared by this movie. I wasn’t sitting on the edge of my seat, in fact I was a little bored. I will say that both kids gave excellent performances. In the ‘89 version Miko Hughes was one creepy little bastard. His voice over the phone, “First I played with Jud, then I played with Mommy and now I want to play with you.” I loved it. And in this updated version Jeté Laurence gave a truly macabre performance. With the aide of impressive makeup and eerie body control, she was able to project an preternatural, ghoulish shell of a person who has clearly lost something. She is unsettling. Gladly they kept the famed achilles heal cut scene but all the other death scenes felt slightly cheapened. The mother felt even weaker than the 1989 version of the film and in the original film and she was not that much of a strong character to begin with. In this version it felt like all she did was cry. I think I hated her character the most. My second least favorite part would be the new ending to the movie which I will not spoil, but suffice it to say is not surprising, just cliche and a joke.
Wait for this version to come out for free if you decide to see it at all. If you want to see Pet Sematary I suggest watching the 1989 version. While not perfect its the best we have. And if your a purest, read the book.
Pet Sematary: US Release Date 4/5/2019
Director: Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer
Starring: John Litgow, Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jete Laurence and Obssa Ahmed
Released By :Paramount Pictures