Pet Sematary

Apparitions and racing trucks

Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) is a mild-mannered physician in Boston who loves his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two children Ellie (Jete Laurence) and Gage (twins Hugo and John Lithgow).  Both Louis and Rachel have had enough of their busy life in Boston and have decided to move to the country.  The film opens with the family plus lovable pussy cat Church traveling by car to their new home in Ludlow, Maine.  The doctor wishes to spend more time with his children, while Rachel is tormented by guilt as she still feels responsible for the untimely death of her sister some years back.  She hopes a more relaxed life style in the country will help her come to grips with this part of her past.

The first ominous sign something is amiss in their new locality appears when Louis fails to save the life of Victor Pascow (Obssa Abmed). While recovering from this tragedy he is confronted by an apparition, Victor’s body, bloody face and all, that suddenly sits straight up as if alive.  On second glance the apparition is gone.  The apparition reappears throughout the film with timely advice for Louis.

The next event occurs when Rachel and Ellie are exploring the woods behind their home. They come upon a procession of young people wearing face masks of the dead animals they are carrying. The young people are proceeding to the Pet Sematary where the animals will be buried.  Rachel and Ellie are very cautious, even suspicious, in the first instance when walking through the woods. The encounter with the procession strengthens their feeling something very odd is happening.

As if encouraged by the scene, Ellie later decides to discover for herself what is going on.  She comes upon the animal cemetery, but a barricade consisting of branches and limbs from trees prevents her from going further.  She, nevertheless, being the curious girl she is, begins to climb over the barricade, but is startled when an elderly man, who later appears to be their neighbour Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), shouts at her not to go any further causing her to fall and injure herself. He treats her injury in a kindly way and they become friends.

A further and even more ominous signal, accompanied by music appropriate to a horror movie, is the fact that huge tank trucks suddenly race over the country road along their house. The audience actually gasped upon hearing the horrific sound made by a passing truck.

In the meantime, Church, the family cat, goes missing. Louis, after assuring Ellie and Gage that the cat will eventually turn up, discovers its bloody remains when taking a walk along the country road. Church, it is assumed, was killed by one of the passing trucks. The death and burial of Church by the grieving Louis thus becomes the key to understanding the rest of the film. Jud tells Louis he knows where to bury Church. At first it would be in the Pet Sematary, but Jud, realizing the grief of Louis, decides to bury the cat in the Indian burial ground which lay on the other side of the barricade. He assures Louis the burial in this place will guarantee the return of Church to life.

The effects of the creaking woodwork in the country house, the foggy woods and the magical return of the deceased are reinforced by Christopher Young’s music. So do the immediate close-ups of the actors by the cinematography of Laurie Rose.

The return from the dead, whether beast or man, stretches the imagination. There is also some comic relief in the film, which does make it all rather innocent. Church the cat, for instance, is sometimes absurdly funny in his frightful meanness, but Pet Sematary certainly provides a good dose of impending disaster.

film: Pet Sematary
year: 2019
second adaptation of the 1983 novel of the same name by Stephen King
directors:  Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmeyer
screen script: by Jeff Buhler, from screen story Matt Greenberg (1989)
camera:  Laurie Rose
editor:  Sarah Broshar
genre: supernatural horror
production Company di Banavontura Pictures
producers:  Lorenzo di Bonventura, Stephen Schneider & Mark Vahradien
executive Producer:  Mark Moran
cast:  Jason Clarke as Louis, Amy Seimetz as Rachel, John Lithgow as Jud, and Hugo and Lucas Lavoie as Gage
music score:  Christopher Young
runtime:  101 minutes
distributor:  Paramount – In Holland Universal Pictures International