THREE AND A HALF STARS Taking your dead cat to the cemetery is bad, but taking your dead daughter is worse.
Jason Clark, Jéte Laurence
Fans of the original and newcomers alike will be pleased to see Stephen King’s celebrated PET SEMATARY come back to chilling life (oh the irony) in this nerve-twanging remake by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer. It’s certainly true that ‘they don’t come back the same’ for this reboot is considerably more enjoyable than the original, that’s if the idea of turning dead loved ones into zombie like creatures for personal satisfaction is in any way enjoyable.
It begins innocently enough when young couple Louis and Rachel (Jason Clark and Amy Semietz) take their kids to start a new life in Maine. The sprawling property includes a local cemetery for pets, one that sits on top of an ancient First Nations burial ground. Well, that can’t be good can it?
And so, when the family cat is killed, colourful neighbour Jud (John Lithgow) suggests a midnight burial and before you can say last rites, Puss comes back to life with the fury of the demon he’s become. Tragedy begets tragedy. The couple’s daughter Ellie is suddenly killed and before you can say ‘Enough! Put the house on the market, I’m outta here’, once again we’re off to the cemetery and another midnight burial…
Aside from the implication that the country is a dangerous place and one to be avoided, the morals in this morality tale are pretty clear: don’t mess with the natural order and those who play God get what’s coming for them. It was central to the 1989 version and remains so here with Kölsch and Widmyer giving the film added heft by way of muscular direction, stylish editing and deft application of the Gotcha! moment. No matter how inured you think you are to the off-camera scare, they’ll still getcha.
Seasoned further by the fine performance by Jéte Laurence as Ellie, PET SEMATARY is a wickedly creepy, and creepily wicked, entertainment.