This might officiate a wave of Stephen King remakes
Like with many genre movies, horror, too is divided by the era in which it is made.
The ’70s were known for its mixed bag of demonic, yet philosophic approach to horror, whereas the ’80s were driven by the madness of humanity. The ’90s dropped a bag of slasher flicks and semi-satirical commentaries on the genre, while the 2000s celebrated the the advent of senseless jump scares. And remakes. So. Many. Remakes.
And given Hollywood’s enslavement to trends, what’s popular will be done to death. So with the recent success of It, and the announcement of The Dark Tower TV series by Amazon (let’s all forget the movie), it’s really no surprise that other Stephen King works are once again in line for adaptations or revisits.
Based off King’s 1986 novel, Pet Sematary was first adapted in 1989. While King and his works were largely popular during that era, Pet Sematary was an exception of not receiving as much critical acclaim.
The remake’s primary intent seems to be course correcting the errors of its predecessor. While it stays closer to the plot than the 1989 version, it also places a smart twist in the overall course of the story, allowing for those familiar with the content to be somewhat caught off guard.
While the modern day jump scare factor is still annoyingly present, Pet Sematary keeps it to a minimum, and instead chooses to up the creep factor—and successfully so. And while the plot does lose some of the nuances of the book, this remake does a better job than the original with setting a new context to the dynamics between the characters.
The true binding power of the film however, are Jason Clark’s and John Lithgow’s performances, both at their tortured best, demanding sympathy for the actions of their characters. Additionally, Amy Seimetz’s performance as Rachel Creed is also a marked improvement on the character, with a more aware and proactive journey across the film. And while children are naturally creepy little beings, the child cast genuinely push boundaries without ever feeling try hard.
Although Pet Sematary is fundamentally plagued by the consequential nature of its source material, this adaptation does do its level best to rise above both novel and original adaptation. And even though this doesn’t do much to make it a great movie, it does at least feel like a remake made relevant by an updated vision as opposed to a lazy reproduction.