Pet Sematary(2019) Movie Review
Directors: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
Runtime: 101 min
Genre: Horror, Suspense
Cast: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Amy Seimetz
Budget: USD 21 million
Box Office: USD 113.1 million
“Sometimes, dead is better.” -Jud Crandall (Jon Lithgow)
As a Stephen King fan, I had some pretty lofty expectations for this film. I saw the classic 1989 version as a kid and couldn’t wait to see how this reboot compared. My excitement grew when I read Jason Clarke would play Louis Creed, and Jon Lithgow would portray Jud Crandall. When you mix a great cast with a story that originated from my favorite author, what could possibly go wrong? Yet the only thought I found myself left with by the time this movie ended was, “Sometimes, the original version is better.”
The opening of this movie is relatively confusing. I’d have been entirely lost had I not read the book and seen the previous version. The film opens with Dr. Louis Creed driving his wife, Rachel, and their children, Ellie and Gage, to their new home in Ludlow, Maine. Shortly after they arrive, Ellie and Rachel see some of the neighborhood kids conducting a ceremony of sorts. I thought the original version did a much better job of introducing the pet cemetery by merely showing it to the audience as the film was being introduced. These kids came off looking like total psychopaths as they wore morbid masks and marched a dead animal through the woods in a rusty old wheelbarrow. If I were Rachel, I’d be forced to wonder if they’d killed the animal they were parading through my backyard with. I’d also have to wonder what their parents must be like. I understand going for a darker theme, but I’m not buying why Rachel doesn’t explain to her daughter that she must stay out of those woods unsupervised. She simply says they should go back home and watch a show. I thought this movie could have been set up so much better if they’d simply shown those same kids burying the animal in the pet cemetery straight off.
Jud Crandall comes off as a creepy old man when we’re introduced to him. Ellie can’t resist going back into those woods to find out what those weirdo kids had been up to. She begins climbing up a mess of trees when Jud yells for her to get down. He then pulls a stinger out of her leg and starts giving her some background information on the pet cemetery. At least in the 1989 version, they’d tried establishing him as a well-intended neighbor by saving Gage from being rundown by a terrifying Semi. These writers give him that total creepo vibe by making it seem like he’s following a little girl through the woods. And, I must question Rachel’s actions again. She finds this strange man in the middle of the woods with her daughter after seeing that group of weirdo kids and doesn’t plead with her husband about why they should head for the hills immediately? I’m also confused as to why Rachel and Louis are never seen discussing Jud or the psycho children that inhabit their lovely new community.
Louis Creed doesn’t believe in anything in this movie. Rachel asks him if he really thinks that there’s nothing at all when a person dies, and he says yes. It sure looks like these two have a well-established marriage here. I’d like to think most people discuss the religious beliefs they have somewhat before they get married and have children. Do you mean to tell me that Rachel married this guy without knowing his outlook on God?
Jud is further vilified after finding the Creed family cat, Church, dead on his front lawn. Rachel and Louis make more questionable parenting decisions by trying to hide Church’s death from Ellie by planning to tell her he ran away. Jud proceeds to outright screw Louis Creed over by convincing him to bury Church on the sour ground without offering any explanation as to what the consequences could be. Louis even asks him point-blank what they’re doing, and Jud makes it seem like they’re just burying the cat. That’s a pretty shitty thing to pull after the Creed’s opened up their home to him and fed him a nice home-cooked meal. Louis begins connecting the dots when he asks Jud what had happened to his dog. Jud finally comes clean by explaining that his dog eventually had to be put down after attacking his mother, but unfortunately for Louis, it was already too late – his fate had been sealed the moment he finished burying that cat.
The most significant change from the 1989 version is having Ellie get killed by the Semi instead of Gage. This idea had a ton of potential, but once again, I found myself questioning how it played out. The scene starts off with Gage running around the front yard. Louis notices him getting too close to the road as a semi approaches, and frantically begins running. I must admit, I expected Gage to be done for here. I was quite shocked when Ellie noticed a huge semi-trailer headed directly at her. But as soon as Ellie returns, this movie just gets weird for me. I don’t like all the dialogue they gave to the zombie version of Ellie. I don’t like how Louis isn’t even given a chance at succeeding. In the original version, Louis kills Zombie Gage, which at least makes the audience think he has a shot at succeeding. This movie just shows his ultimate failure as a father and husband time and again. Rachel’s character is much more compelling in this one. It gives a great illustration of how she struggles with her sister’s death, which occurred when she was a child.
This version fails to utilize Victor Pascow properly. His warnings are hardly even noticed. The way the original version used his ghost throughout the movie gave the viewer much better information about the dangers of the burial ground. This version just gives subtle hints throughout. Louis comes off as selfish in a certain way due to the film, not explaining how the burial ground completely consumed his thoughts. This movie lacks too many details, and as a standalone movie, leaves the audience more confused than anything. The characters don’t react in a way that makes sense to me. It also ends with no hope whatsoever. At least Ellie survived in the 1989 version of the movie and the book. This one ends with an infant Gage being stalked by his undead family. It’s not like this movie it totally unwatchable, but I’d recommend the 1989 version all day long.
Which version do you prefer? Feel free to let me know in the comments. Have a great day! Thank you for reading!
“I don’t think anyone really misses the graveyard shift in the ER.” -Louis Creed
“Louis, the barrier is not meant to be broken.” -Victor Pascow
“Shit! Uh, we can’t let Ellie see this.” -Louis Creed
“And Louis… We should do this tonight.” -Jud Crandall
“Tell ya what, Judd and I are gonna take care of Church tonight. Alright, we’ll… we’ll just tell Ellie that he ran away. Ok.” -Louis Creed
“Bury your animal. I’d help ya, but you have to do it yourself. And use some of these rocks to make a cairn. Kinda like the other ones.” -Jud Crandall
“We need to have a little talk. Ellie’s cat is walking around over there like nothing happened.” -Louis Creed
“There are places in this world that are older than either of us. Places that a rational doctor brain like yours will never understand. Nobody knows what that place is, what happens in that stony ground. But the soil of a man’s heart is stonier, Louis. What we did last night, we did for Ellie. But that’s your cat now.” -Jud Crandall
“Your destruction, and the destruction of all you love… is very near, doctor.” -Victor Pascow
“Sometimes, dead is better.” -Jud Crandall
“The Wendigo. You heard a lot about that all over the north country back in the old days. It was a myth passed down from local tribes up this way. But to them, it wasn’t just some campfire story. They believed it. They feared it.” -Jud Crandall
“Yeah, they knew the power of that place. They felt its pull. They came to believe that those woods belonged to something else. That the ground was bad.” -Jud Crandall
“Sour. The ground is sour.” -Louis Creed
“Yeah. So they moved on. But not before they built that deadfall. They built it to keep people out. But it didn’t keep people out.” -Jud Crandall
“The Wendigo may just be some crazy folktale, but there is something up there, something that brings things back.” -Jud Crandall
“So what happened to your dog, Jud?” -Louis Creed
“He came back. Just like Stanny B. said he would, but he was changed. It was when he went after my mother that my daddy put him down for the second time. I thought it would be different with Ellie’s cat. I mean, Biff had a mean streak, to begin with. But Church, well, was a nice cat…” -Jud Crandall
“He tried to hurt Gage.” -Louis Creed
“I’m so sorry, Louis. I am. Once you feel the power of that place, you make up the sweetest smelling reasons to go back. But I was wrong. Sometimes dead is better.” -Jud Crandall
“I know what you’re thinking of doing, Louis, but she won’t come back the same. I’m so goddamn sorry I did this. Ellie is the first person to touch my heart in a long time. I didn’t want her to be so sad. It’s that goddamn place. It feeds on your grief, gets into your mind.” -Jud Crandall
“I remember my birthday party. Church was out on the road. I was so happy he came home. There was a truck. Then everything went black.” -Ellie Creed
“If you’ve done something, Louis, it’s not too late to undo it.” -Jud Crandall
“You don’t have to worry about me, Jud. I’m fine. Really.” -Louis Creed
“Louis, what’s going on?” -Rachel Creed
“I needed more time with her. Honey, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to her.” -Louis Creed
“You’re scaring me. Just tell me what you’re talking about.” -Rachel Creed
“It was my fault she died, Rache. I had to bring her back.” -Louis Creed
“There’s a place, Rache, deep in the woods beyond the pet cemetery. It brings things back.” -Louis Creed
“Aren’t you happy, mommy?” -Ellie Creed
“Hug your daughter, Rache. Hug your daughter.” -Louis Creed
“No. No, we buried her. We put her in the ground.” -Rachel Creed
“She’s been given back to us. We have a second chance.” -Louis Creed
“It doesn’t work that way, Louis.” -Rachel Creed
“Yes, it does. There’s a place in the woods. That place I was telling you about. I couldn’t understand it until I buried Church up there. That cat was dead until I buried him in the ground, and it brought him back.” -Louis Creed
“He wasn’t the same after that.” -Rachel Creed
“You saw her. You touched her. That is our daughter.” -Louis Creed
“You dug her up?” -Rachel Creed
“That is our daughter down there, honey. Please, okay? I did what I think was right. Let God take his own fucking kid!” -Louis Creed
“Don’t bury me in that place.” -Rachel Creed
“I thought we could be a family. I wanted to be a family. But we can’t.” -Louis Creed
“But we can, daddy. We can.” -Ellie Creed
More Movie Reviews!!