"endless suspense throughout this film, it's well-made, visceral and should serve to others as an example of how to faithfully remake a cult classic"
I went into Pet Semetary blind, having never seen the original before watching the remake. I’m generally a fan of Steven King's works, be they under his own name or a pseudonym and having enjoyed the remake of IT immensely I thought this would be a good choice to scratch my itch for some decent horror fair and I wasn’t wrong.
It is however a much different beast (pun intended) to IT, whereas the scare factor in it was more in your face and overt, Pet Semetary is a more chilling story, the kind that makes you shift uncomfortably in your seat, knowing something is about to happen but not sure exactly what. There are some nice changes from the original that serve to keep this adaption fresh and not just a by the numbers remake.
The plot is very similar to the original, a family relocating in search of a quieter and slower pace of life, settling into what seems to be an idyllic home only to find that the land that came with the home includes that of the Pet Semetary. A major change which occurs early in the story and was shown off in the initial marketing is that in this version rather than Gage being the one to come back from the dead as an evil version it's actually his sister Ellie. This feels like a good twist and means that our main antagonist is more of a threat, possibly being more chilling due to the fact that she has more of a coherent idea of what is happening to her and around her.
Main acting duties are taken up by Jason Clarke, John Lithgow and Amy Seimetez, all three handle their characters superbly. Clarke and Seimetez play Louis and Rachel Creed respectively and by them as grieving parents struggling to cope with the loss of their daughter. John Lithgow is however used perfectly as Judd Crandall, provided exposition to our story in a necessary yet not tacked on way. You can almost feel a moral struggle in his performance at times, agonising over whether or not to tell the Creed family about what lies in their backyard.
The subplot involving Rachel's deformed sister and the mental toll that her childhood takes upon her is also present and handled well, it feels like it's handled in a chilling yet not offensive way as could have been the case considering how times have changed in the close to 30 years since the original premiered.
Whilst maybe not being as gory as many of King's other works, it is used to great effect when needed and particularly in my own experience makes the audience wince that little bit more.
Overall and to summarise the experience I’d have to say I felt truly chilled and left in endless suspense throughout this film, it's well-made, visceral and should serve to others as an example of how to faithfully remake a cult classic without going over the top. The changes are well made, even though they leave the ending a little more ambiguous and open ended to a possible sequel.
It may also have you agreeing with the films tag line.. “Sometimes, dead is better…”