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Thursday, April 25, 2019


This second remake of Stephen King’s horror novel is a satisfyingly nasty piece of work. (Review by Patrick Compton - 8/10)

Sometimes, death is better ...

I suspect that as they shuffle out of the cinema, few viewers will disagree with this grim message conveyed by one of the characters in this disturbing supernatural chiller.

Barely a year after the huge success of It, Hollywood has ransacked the King archive yet again for another big payday. The original novel was published in 1983 and it was King himself who provided the script for Mary Lambert’s (forgettable) 1989 film version; now Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer have co-directed this second, much more potent adaptation based on a script by Jeff Buhler.

Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz play Dr Louis Creed and his wife Rachel, young parents who have left the rat race in Boston for the quieter, more bucolic pleasures of the small town of Ludlow in Maine.

They aren’t allowed to bask in their changed circumstances for long.

The Creed’s eight-year-old daughter, Ellie (Jeté Laurence), quickly discovers a spooky pet cemetery in the woods at the back of their property, where it has become the custom for sinisterly clad local children (with spelling issues) to bury their pets. More worrying still is their next-door-neighbour Jud’s (John Lithgow) revelation that beyond this cemetery is another kind of resting place sitting on sacred, “sour” ground that soon leads to some serious supernatural trouble.

Underlying all the unease is people’s understandable fear of death, specifically the atheistic notion that it is the final full stop at the end of our life sentence. Amy, who is haunted by her own family nightmare involving her crippled sister, chastises her secular husband for suggesting – in front of his daughter – that there is no after-life. This matter comes back to bite them when their beloved cat, Church, is run over by a truck, and even worse is to follow as the family discovers that there is a horrible price to pay for returning from the dead.

A last word on the plot: Ellie’s three-year-old brother, Gage (Hugo Lavoie), manages to sail through most of his family’s multiple anxieties simply by being unaware of what’s going on. He has a key role to play, however, in the brilliantly contrived final scene that offers naught for our comfort.

Pet Sematary, despite one or two wrong turns, is a particularly effective horror movie, with fine performances by Clarke and Seimetz as the two central characters, as well as a sympathetic turn by Lithgow as the neighbour whose kind-hearted gesture turns spectacularly toxic.

Pet Sematary opened in Durban on April 19, 2019. - Patrick Compton