10th Apr2019

‘Pet Sematary’ Review – Second Opinion

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence, Hugo Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed | Written by Jeff Buhler, Matt Greenberg | Directed by Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer


Louis Creed, his wife Rachel, and their two children, Gage and Ellie, move to a rural home where they are welcomed and enlightened about the eerie ‘Pet Sematary’ located nearby. After the tragedy of their cat being killed by a truck, Louis resorts to burying it in the mysterious pet cemetery, which is definitely not as it seems, as it proves to the Creeds that sometimes, dead is better.

Pet Sematary, directed by duo Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, is a reimagining of the chilling Stephen King novel and cult classic 1989 film of the same name directed by Mary Lambert. The 2019 remake is absolutely chilling and delightfully eerie. It makes you wait for the seismic terrors, but the payoff is horrifically unsettling with a truly scene-stealing performance from Jeté Laurence who is both incredible and phenomenal.

The examination of grief and depression highlighted in Pet Sematary is one of its most compelling and captivating attributes and one of its most haunting elements. In a similar vein of a lack of a better phrase “new wave of mental health horror” in the likes of Hereditary, The Babadook etc. This element of self-reflective albeit drastically stylised horror is a perfect blend of audience resonation and profound emotional terror that plagues your insecurities, and Pet Sematary utilises such in terms of depression and grief, twisting such in a deeply pragmatic sense. To state certain sequences are traumatising or even uncomfortable to behold, not only contextually for the characters but also for the audiences themselves would be a slight understatement. How the screenplay from Jeff Buhler examines these themes is quite remarkable. They’re deep-felt and intensely smothering in tactile disposition, comparable that of a virus of sorts. These themes complete and utterly take over and you due to the excellent performances on offer hit with a deafening blow.

The performances, in question, are quite terrific. It’s nice to see Jason Clarke stretch his acting legs and not play his quintessential cuckold husband to events as he has done in the past with The Great Gatsby, Aftermath to name just a few. Here he takes centre stage and engages with a fantastic screen presence and wrestles with the emotional turmoil of his character with an engaging morally corruptive performance. Amy Seimetz also puts in a tremendous display of a deeply haunted and psychologically scarred character. The character of Rachel is plagued with inner demons and the execution of such offers moments of absolute morbid terror. However, the stand out here as mentioned in the opening paragraph is the performance of Jeté Laurence as daughter Ellie. Laurence is absurdly good here, not only acting far beyond her years in terms of ability in evoking emotion but how she demands the screen with both spectacular elusive and commanding screen presence that results in a powerhouse of a performance.

Pet Sematary is in UK cinemas now.


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