Dr Louis Creed moves into a new home, along with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), their two young kids Ellie (Jeté Laurence), and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) with their cat, Church, in tow. Ellie wanders around the property when she comes across a burial ground that reads ‘Pet Sematary’. After Rachel finds Ellie, their neighbour Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) warns them not to stray too far from home as the woods aren’t safe. The Creed family soon discovers why this warning is not to be taken lightly. Those familiar with the 1989 version will be caught unaware by the changes made for this remake, although it would be best advised to avoid all the official trailers to maintain an element of surprise.
In this new adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, directors Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmeyer spin a fresh perspective, which has the potential to be far more impactful. After all, this harrowing tale is about the grieving process and how different people deal with the death of their loved ones. Sadly, this narrative is not explored to its full potential, as the directors often choose to focus on audio-visual elements for the sake of scares instead. This nullifies strong performances by the consistently brilliant John Lithgow as Jud, and Jeté Laurence’s standout turn as Ellie. Both Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz are effective playing parents grasping at straws to keep their family intact. There’s a backstory setting up an intriguing angle that promises to work well with the overall theme, but is squandered as not enough time is spent on character development.
The twists wear thin as the film rushes to the finish line, by not allowing the weight of harrowing events to land as hard as they should, despite the tragedies hitting hard. In fact, this is a film that could afford a few more scenes for the terror to dig deeper within your psyche as it draws up some of your own demons. While the audience is spooked at regular intervals thanks to the compelling atmosphere and unsettling sound design, the cumulative effect starts to wear off eventually. Yet, the very nature of this story is disturbing enough to compel you to see it through, helped by its taut run-time, and one terrifying cat!