Film Review: Pet Sematary

Tonight my Middle of the Row seatmates and I are recording a podcast episode on the newest film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. For those who can’t wait, or just hate the sound of our voices, here are my written thoughts on the film!

Basic Synopsis: A family moves to a town where the ground doesn’t always hold onto those that are buried within it.

Speaking of Death, Is There a Dog in This Horror Film? Technically yes, but it died before the film began. The cat, on the other hand…

Brief Thoughts: If you haven’t read my recent review on King’s original novel (which can be found here), let me summarize it for you: I wish I hadn’t known anything about the book going in. Unfortunately one of the trailers for this adaptation spoiled a major plot point of the story the week I was to start reading it, a plot point that then didn’t happen for 300 pages. That’s a long time to wait for a story to really get going…

Turns out the opposite of that can also be a problem. Instead of slowly moseying towards the turning point in the story, as the book does, the movie never allows any of its scenes to breathe before moving on to the next bit of breakneck storytelling, making it a challenge to connect to anything.

What Should’ve Stayed Behind During the Adaptation Process: They should’ve cut Victor Pascow, for starters. His foreboding scenes didn’t work for me in the book, and they don’t work here either because he has no real connection to this family or the cemetery. He’s simply a cheat to get characters moving and story beats to happen. And if that isn’t enough, the film could probably lose some scenes involving Rachel’s traumatic childhood, if not all of them. I know they provide backstory and some creepy moments, but they still feel a little superfluous to what is happening currently. Instead, dedicate that time to the main characters (including old man Jud from across the street) so that we truly care for them when bad things spring forth. Don’t get me wrong, the last 30 minutes of the film are pretty great regardless of what came before, I just think it would’ve been emotionally impactful as well had we cared for these characters more.

Biggest Improvement From the Book: Even if more could’ve been cut, at least Louis wasn’t unhealthily obsessed with his cat’s testicles this time around. I swear, if I had to hear him overreact to a cat having his manhood removed one more time I was gonna lose it.

Read This Instead (Spoilers): If you weren’t sure about seeing this movie, save yourself some money and just read The Monkey’s Paw instead.

Final Thoughts: As much as I really enjoyed the last half hour or so of the film, I’ll be fine if Pet Sematary stays buried.

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