PET SEMATARY / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: KEVIN KOLSCH, DENNIS WIDMEYER / SCREENPLAY: MATT GREENBERG / STARRING: JASON CLARKE, AMY SIEMETZ, JOHN LITHGOW / RELEASE DATE: 29TH JULY
Despite some sniffy reviews on its cinema release, this new version of Stephen King’s most disturbing book is a pretty decent home watch.
The Creed family, Dad Louis, Mum Rachael, daughter Ellie and toddler Gage move from busy Boston to a more sedate, rural life. But the land that comes with their new home contains on old pet cemetery, just beyond which lies an ancient burial ground where the soil has ‘gone sour’ with the power to resurrect those dead pets and bring them back from the grave.But not quite as they were. They come back smelly, unaffectionate, cruel.
Louis finds this out when Ellie’s’s beloved cat Church gets killed by one of the massive trucks that hurtle down their road, and friendly old timer, neighbour Jud takes Louis on a night-time misty walk to a place that’s not meant for the living. But it’s another, much more upsetting accident which will bring the true horror of the Pet Sematary home.
On the plus side, this version of Pet Sematary remains pretty faithful to the tone of King’s novel. It centres on grief, retaining the feeling of a man and woman torn apart by loss. It even manages to bring the husband and wife struggle between faith and science in. Its looks great too and is certainly a better staged film than the 1983 version.The performances are terrific throughout, with Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow and an excellent Jeté Laurence in the pivotal role of Ellie.
Talking of whom… King said when he wrote the novel that he wanted to write about the scariest thing he could imagine, and that was the death of his children. Much criticism has been labelled at the film for the major change from the source novel and original film, in terms of who exactly gets buried in that unhallowed ground. But it works because it throws you, confounds your expectation and is nicely set up. It’s a dark film - child death, infant zombies, grief, mourning and loss - and it doesn’t shy away from these unpleasant themes.
But, as the extras show, there’s one major flaw. The ‘alternative ending’ is actually the one from the novel and it’s SO much better than the revised one the film makers decided to opt for. There’s a reason King is considered a master story-teller and the film’s climax is a change too far.
Other extras include the usual deleted scenes but Beyond the Deadfall is made up of four mini docs which cover the making of the film and are and interesting watch.
Just make sure you put the cat out before you start watching it.
Extras: Alternate Ending, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Night Terrors - Family Haunting Visions, The Tale of Timmy Baterman, Beyond the Deadfall: Chapter One: Resurrection - Directors, screenwriters, and cast discuss bringing this classic back to life, Chapter Two: The Final Resting Place - a deeper look into finding the right location for the terror to unfold, Chapter Three: The Road to Sorrow - inside the film’s tragic themes and creating the iconic cat “Church”, Chapter Four: Death Comes home - unearth the creepy elements behind the climax and final scenes of the film