Director: Mary Lambert
Starring: Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne, Denise Crosby, Brad Greenquist, Michael Lombard
Sometimes dead is better
The Creed family is starting a new life in the small town Ludlow, Maine. Louis, the father of the family has been given a job as a doctor at the local University while his wife Rachel takes care of their two kids at home. Just a few minutes away from their new house lies the Pet Sematary, a cemtery where the locals have buried their beloved pets for a long time.
Louis is told a story by the neighbor Jud Crandall about the cemetery and how the dead comes back to life if you bury the remains at the place. When the family cat Church dies, Louis buries it at the cemetery to avoid his daughter having to face mortality. But what he was not told by Jud is that what gets buried in those grounds, don’t come back the same.
Pet Sematary is based on a novel by Stephen King and this time he adapted the story into a screenplay himself. Being a Stephen King movie can be both positive and negative. On the positive side, people are willing to check out any film that is based on his books, but most also expect them to be just average films. Pet Sematary is more than that and I feel that it is an underrated and at times creepy horror film.
As always, it is impossible to bring everything from the book into a movie but I do feel that there could have been some additions to the story we get here. The Jud character is a mystery and I would have prefered a little more explanation in why he even brought up the cemetery when he knows what could happen. I have read the book and the explanation done there works much better. I also think that the film could have benefited from removing some of the family drama and rather make the Creeds more warm and loving towards each other.
When it comes to the scares however, the film has plenty of creepy scenes like Rachel’s sister Zelda, who is someone you will not forget no matter how hard you try. It’s also very ballsy move to make a child into a villain and it brings another dimension of both terror and sadness to the film. While it also has these creepy scenes, the suspense level in the film never gets too high and the viewer will find it to be a very “safe” film to watch.
As mentioned already, I would have liked to change the Creed family and make them warmer. I didn’t care much for Dale Midkiff as Louis and he fails to bring out much sympathy from me even though the character is an average good guy who is not really to blame for all of this madness that happens to his family. The same can be said about Denise Crosby as Rachel, both of them just seem too cold for me. If I cared more for them, the effect of the film would be so much better.
Fred Gwynne however is great as Jud Crandall. He looks and acts like another character from the Stephen King universe who could just as easily been in some of his other films. You always feel that there is something more to the character than what we are presented and I just wish that he could have been explored a little more.
The film is directed by Mary Lambert, something rare as a female director and she did do a good job here except the flaws I’ve already mentioned with the main characters. The pacing and the look of the film is done very well and Lambert would also end up directing the sequel, which wasn’t that bad either.
Pet Sematary is one of the better Stephen King adaptations and it has a lot of great and creepy stuff in it. It’s a sad and terrifying story that especially parents might have some trouble with. It’s not flawless, but it is a damn good horror film.