The problem with trying to update Pet Sematary is that not everyone has the intention to add something new to the premise. The movie is faithful to the source material in teasing at what’s to come, but the connections to the past need to be more pronounced before viewers can notice.
I wanted to dig deeper into the aboriginal lore, and feel a prequel product can do better before leading into re-visualizing King’s Pet Sematary. Call me a sucker for wanting to see Indians fight the supernatural. Usually they have nothing but huge respect for the elements, but when the hidden world has evil afoot, to see how they fare is far more interesting than any modernest tale. Not much is said about the Wendigo said to terrorize Maine. King’s books do a better job. This creature of terror’s sphere of influence includes the towns of Derry and Little Tall too. No shared universe is suggested in the films, but it’s a safe bet the studios behind all the new King films wants it. Since Marvel Entertainment has set the bar, other studios like Universal Studios wants a monster mash to happen!
When the plot to this film is mostly cliche driven, I did not need to see another film driven by the mood of having events take place during a dark and stormy night and finding the real cemetery next to a swamp and continually shrouded in fog.
Anyone who has read King’s book or seen the 1989 film knows the story. This film’s execution relies on too many jump scares to get into the action. The creep factor comes in waves. From the strange funeral possession of neighbourhood kids burying a dead pet to the reveal of a Wendigo hiding deep in them thar woods, the answers are there. But yet, Louis plays no heed to the obvious warnings. Grief-stricken, the thought of bringing back the family cat (and more) to life only paves way to darker desires.
The connection to the creature of Indian folklore is too marginalized to give this film the oomph it really needs. The Wendigo is a terrible creature and legends about them are essentially cautionary tales about isolation and selfishness (1). Not every viewer will know that. In King’s universe, it is a god-like force and its intention is unknown. Is it an elemental or something else? No clear definition is offered when this entity is named. To say Louis got what he deserved, should this creature abide by the rules of God, is well earned. When this patriarch of the Creed family tries to bring everything he has lost back from the great beyond, he gets a lot more than he bargained for.
Despite terrific casting and a wonderful performance by Jeté Laurence as Elle (the undead form), it’s not enough to sell me on the product. Lithgow’s role as Jud is a nostalgic reminder to Fred Gwynne and his appearance in the 1989 version. The movie did not have enough personality to make it stand out. Yes, the undead do not have enough bite to them to make them memorable. Thankfully, Pennywise will change all that when IT 2 comes out on Sept 6, 2019.