I wasn’t the biggest fan of the 1989 film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic story, Pet Sematary, but it did have creepy moments that kept me watching until the end. The same can be said of the 2019 reboot, also titled Pet Sematary (love films that reuse the name of the original for confusion on end) that has just enough freaky moments to keep you watching until the end, if you can brave cheap jump scares and bad pacing first.
The plot follows the life of the Creed family (not to be confused with the hit Rocky spinoff), with Louis (Jason Clarke), his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), their kids Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (Hugo & Lucas Lavoie), and their cat named Church moving from Massachusetts to a small town in Maine to get away from the busy city and live a peaceful life in the country. Things seem to be going well at first, and they even have a friendly old neighbor named Jud (John Lithgow), but sadly their home is close to a highway where speeding big rigs come through on a daily basis, one of which kills Church.
Not wanting Ellie to know about it, Louis and Jud quickly set off to bury the cat in a pet cemetery in the woods that Jud knows about. What he didn’t tell Louis is that whatever is buried there comes back from the dead, but not the same. So of course Church comes back home and all is well until the cat starts hissing and scratching anyone who comes close, and all sorts of spooky noises and images come from the house that pushes the family to their limits, but they decide to stay anyway. This leads to more tragic events that I won’t dare spoil, but I will say things get genuinely creepy for everyone involved.
Besides some very sluggish pacing and lazy jump scares, I had a good time seeing this through. It comes off as a film that you know isn’t the best, but there’s something about it that keeps you wanting to see what happens next and how badly it’ll end for the characters. Speaking of which, without spoiling anything, I did enjoy the ending and wished more horror films would have similar conclusions (Brightburn did which I also liked). The visuals and audio are perfect thanks to 4K HDR for vivid details and Dolby HD audio which sadly did spook me with the jump scares here and there.
The special features are a lot like the film, decent but nothing too out of the ordinary. “Beyond the Deadfall” contains four featurettes that go into the production of the film, shooting locations, bringing the King classic to the screen again, and more. There’s also some deleted and extended scenes that don’t add or take away anything, and a few other short extras to look at once the credits roll.
If it weren’t for bad pacing and cheap jump scares, I would’ve been tempted to give Pet Sematary an Editor’s Choice rating, but as it stands, a good ol’ fashioned “Yay” will suffice as it is a horror flick worth looking at despite its flaws. As long as you don’t go digging too deep for a good time, you’ll want to watch and then bury this one in your collection, because sometimes dead is better.