Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Feature Article

Pet Sematary Review: A Terrifying And Twisted Dark Comedy

Sometimes a remake is better than the original.

After the second trailer for the remake of Pet Sematary dropped, there were some divisive reactions. Remakes in general are not always well received, and for every good Stephen King adaptation like It, we get a Dark Tower or two. With the new Pet Sematary, directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer take some major departures from the source material that made people think the marketing for the film gave away everything. But the Starry Eyes directors have more aces up their sleeves. This new remake dares ask to ask: What if dead was not better?

Those not familiar with the novel or film need not worry, however, for Pet Sematary is a highly entertaining, terrifying, and fun movie all on its own. Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) is tired of the city life, so he decides to move his family from Boston to rural Maine to spend more time with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), and their two young children, 8-year-old Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and 3-year-old Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie). One day Ellie discovers a procession of kids in creepy animal masks heading to a mysterious burial ground in the woods near the family’s new home. There, she meets her neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), who tells the story of the titular pet cemetery that houses beloved and departed pets (and, because this is Stephen King we're talking about, also something more ancient and sinister).

At 101 minutes, Pet Sematary has a great pace that makes it feel like the movie is shorter than it is, leaving you wishing you could see more of this twisted tale. By nature of the story, the major scares don’t begin until about halfway through the movie, but Buhler is an impatient writer and the script wants to scare you as soon as it can--and it succeeds. There are plenty of smaller scares that whet your appetite for the madness that will follow.

The film doesn’t shy away from showing you some horrific and gory stuff, including a scene in which a character's face is half scraped off with his brain hanging out from his skull. It’s an unnerving and visceral sight that will have horror fans cheering in the theater. And those expecting a certain scalpel to play a part in the film should be excited for Pet Sematary, as the scene in question is as gory as you would expect.

There are plenty of surprises both for longtime fans of the story and those coming in blind. The script by Jeff Buhler expects you to be familiar with the story, because it wants to make you feel like you know what is going to happen next. You anticipate the pivotal moments from the older movie and the book, right before Buhler pulls the rug from under you and makes you jump in fear or laugh at the clever ways the script and Kölsch and Widmyer’s direction subverts expectations.

One of the biggest changes takes place in an elaborate and tense scene that acknowledges the audience expectations and then hits you in the face with a truck. It is also a change that works perfectly for this adaptation. Pet Sematary takes full advantage of this change to explore questions about mortality, grief and what we would do if we were in that situation.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

One of the most interesting aspects of the story is how it addresses grief, and how hard it is to let go of loved ones after they die. Jeté Laurence plays Ellie with a nuance not commonly seen in such young actors. Jason Clarke is great as Louis, but it is Amy Seimetz as Rachel who is the highlight of the film. Rachel has a bigger character arc in this version of the story, exploring her proximity to death more closely. And fans of Zelda need not worry, as Pet Sematary takes her part in the story and elevates it to new and more horrific heights.

Despite having plenty of gruesome imagery, Pet Sematary is also morbidly funny. Buhler’s script and Kölsch and Widmyer’s direction doesn’t rely on jokes, but on the messed-up situations the Creed family gets involved in. This is a pitch-black film with a bleak third act that also features a scene with a hairbrush that will have audiences squirming and laughing at the same time.

In an age where every film is getting a remake or a reboot, Pet Sematary might actually be better than the original. It's terrifying, twisted, heartbreaking, morbidly funny, and a hell of a fun time.

The GoodThe Bad
Third act is bananas in all the twisted and dark ways imaginableJohn Lithgow doesn’t have as much to do as one would expect
Jeté Laurence is a revelationWill turn you off from wanting to have kids
Smart changes from the source material
Doesn’t shy away from being gory and morbidly funny
Hypnotic score by Christopher Young

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

rgmotamayor

Rafael Motamayor

Rafael Motamayor (@RafaelMotamayor) is a recovering cinephile and freelance writer from Venezuela currently freezing his ass off in cold, grey, Norway. He likes writing about horror despite being the most scary-cat person he knows.
Back To Top
12 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for justthetip
JustTheTip

656

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Edited By JustTheTip

Just saw this last night. It’s not funny at all. I’m not sure where the dark comedy comes in. No one in the audience was laughing at any part. Also, the movie feels way longer than it is. It is painfully slow. Once it finally gets going, during the last 15 minutes or so, it’s enjoyable. I feel like the writer and I watched two different movies.

Avatar image for jaykobwerdnahs
jaykobwerdnahs

138

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Say what you will about me, but I don't see why people want to watch these kinds of things (why would I want to see someone's face half torn off with their brain coming out?). Still, good on those that do, I guess.

Avatar image for naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

3032

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

Edited By naryanrobinson

While the book may be a “dark comedy”,

I really really don't think the movie will be. Especially if history is anything to go by.

I reckon the only “comedy” part of this entire film will be the “pet” in the title.

Also, GameSpot, autoplay videos are not cool.

-EDIT- And you can't even adjust the volume? Are you kidding?

Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

1282

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Great... Zelda. That was always the freakiest part of the original when I was young. Had no idea it was a man playing that part back then, which probably added to the creepiness. It's not necessarily scary now, goofier, but in my imagination, it's still creepy. Well, I'm interested.

Avatar image for tsunami2311
tsunami2311

984

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

comedy?

Avatar image for srfilk86
srfilk86

589

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By srfilk86

@tsunami2311: SK books have loads of comedy. That's always missing from his movie adaptations.

Avatar image for Daemoroth
Daemoroth

216

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@srfilk86: Not enough to make the tone comedic or for it to be called a 'dark comedy'. Maybe a funny moment here and there when things are still light and the oncoming horror hasn't gotten started, but that's about it.

Avatar image for srfilk86
srfilk86

589

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@Daemoroth: Wrong. There's lots of moments in SK books where even the monsters are cracking jokes.

Avatar image for fluxed_up
Fluxed_Up

53

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@srfilk86: I have to agree. I’ve read over 15 of his books, and King doesn’t get enough credit for his sense of humor.

Avatar image for srfilk86
srfilk86

589

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@fluxed_up: Definitely. I think people take his books too seriously. He's great at writing horror, but that horror is so effective because of the lighter touches. People just don't understand contrast.

Avatar image for aross2004
aross2004

6432

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

Nice to see Stephen King adaptations getting so much love lately.

So many of his books have gotten utter shit movies, (looking at you Dark Tower and Dreamcatcher).

Now, can we please get a trilogy of movies for The Stand that isn't some watered down shit?

Avatar image for uninspiredcup
uninspiredcup

35521

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 85

User Lists: 2

uninspiredcup  Online

https://youtu.be/SZKLpJzv5JY

2 > 1