Pet Sematary Parent Guide
The only horror is knowing that you spent good money for the ticket.
Parent Movie Review
Doctor Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) and his family have decided to move from their hectic lives in Boston to quiet Ludlow, Maine. With his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and children Ellie (Jete Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), Creed is ready to settle into the role of campus doctor at the local university, miles away from the stresses of a big city hospital. Sadly, Ludlow proves to be anything but restful for the Creeds. Because of their home’s unfortunate proximity to a high-speed truck route, their wandering cat is quickly killed by a passing semi-trailer. Hoping to hide the death from his young daughter, Creed enlists the help of neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow). Crandall shows Creed a special place on his property, behind a small graveyard for pets, and instructs him to bury the cat there. To Creed’s surprise, the cat returns the next day, but strangely changed…
Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of the original Stephen King novel and am therefore impossible to please. That said, I did enjoy the 1989 adaptation, and I had high hopes for this one. It is with heavy heart, therefore, that I must report that this is one of the worst horror movies I’ve seen in years. This is primarily for two reasons.
First, Jason Clarke is horribly cast as Louis Creed. For any of the plot elements of this story to work, Louis needs to be a deeply caring and concerned father, torn between what he needs for his family and his own emotional wellbeing, and what he knows he should never do. Jason Clarke, on the other hand, alternates between neutral and angry, has no chemistry with his co-stars, and manages to portray no sense of conflict or agitation at any time. He doesn’t even manage to look scared at any point, which is a problem for the protagonist in a horror movie. He’s like an unconvincing replicant, devoid of emotion or character, who comes with two facial expressions and no emotional range.
Second, the movie seems to have set out to play “bait and switch” with the plot elements from the novel and the adaptation. It gives lingering shots of things that you remember from the originals, and then does something different for no other reason than to be different. And none of those changes are for the better. I’m not going to give anything away, but the changes are fairly radical and fundamentally alter the emotional impact and horror elements of the story. To be honest, they’re mostly just irritating.
With an R rating, primarily for language and gruesome violence, Pet Sematary was never going to get a high score on Parent Previews. I was at least hoping to be able to recommend it to adult horror fans, but frankly, it’s not even very scary. It is, in fact, so profoundly un-scary, that the audience spent a good deal of the climax laughing. This film has managed to not only sour a horror classic with poor casting and writing but turn it into an unintentional, lackluster comedy. It’s not worth the money to see it in theatres. You’d be better off burying the twelve dollars off behind the old graveyard. At least that way you could expect to get your money back…Directed by Kevin Kölsch, and Dennis Widmyer. Starring Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, and Amy Seimetz. Running time: 101 minutes. Theatrical release April 5, 2019. Updated April 4, 2019
Rating & Content Info
Why is Pet Sematary rated R? Pet Sematary is rated R by the MPAA for horror violence, bloody images, and some language
Violence: Bloody footprints are shown leading up to a house. An individual is hit by a car and shown with graphic injuries to their head which bleed heavily. A dead animal is shown by the side of the road. Someone is shown dead after falling down a dumbwaiter shaft. Several people are scratched by an animal. A young child is struck and killed by a truck. An individual is cut across the ankle with a scalpel. A person is stabbed repeatedly with a scalpel. An individual is stabbed repeatedly with a knife. A person is strangled. An individual is impaled through the chest with a piece of rebar.
Sexual Content: A married couple is shown kissing intensely in bed while fully clothed.
Profanity: There are at least half a dozen uses of “extreme” profanity, and perhaps half a dozen more uses of “moderate” profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Jud Crandall is shown smoking throughout the film. Several adult characters are shown drinking socially. Later, adult characters are shown drinking to manage stress and trauma. An individual deliberately drugs another.
Page last updated April 4, 2019
Pet Sematary Parents' GuideWhy do you think Louis Creed makes the choices he does? Is it out of love for his family or selfishness?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Pet Sematary by Stephen King is far more terrifying than this adaptation. His novel Revival will also give you a good scare.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is the classic novel about what happens when people play God and create life.
J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series pits a young wizard against an evil dark wizard determined to overcome death and live forever, at any cost.
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The 1989 adaptation of Pet Sematary is a much better treatment, for the most part. Kenneth Brannagh’s 1994 adaptation of Frankenstein, starring himself and Robert DeNiro, is a dark and gruesome take on Mary Shelley’s classic novel about bringing things to life that ought to have remained dead.