Pet Semetary (2019): ‘We’re Looking at Remakes’ – A Film Review



Stephen King is a much celebrated horror writer, behind books such as Carrie, The Shining and It amongst many others. He’s significantly helped the horror genre in film as many of his books have formed the basis of significant film works. No one has helped the Horror film genre so much since Ed Gein. With the success of the remake of It in 2017 it’s unsurprising that similar books would get the same treatment. Pet Sematary met with reasonable success in the 1980s, it’s no Carrie or The Shining, but it certainly gave us moments like ‘Sometimes Dead is Better’ and ___. With the many remakes in Horror, it’s almost surprising that Pet Sematary hadn’t gotten this treatment sooner. Same rules apply, it’s not exactly needed but with everything getting remade from Evil Dead to Suspiria and, actually forgot Carrie for good reasons. It’s hard to know whether Pet Sematary (2019) would be a Carrie the forgettable and useless, or an It the recent confused tone of a film. Or, perhaps, this’ll break the trend.


A Homage

One of the first interesting things about Pet Sematary (2019) is that it knows what it is, it is dark and with a heavy send up to the 1989 version. It, like many remakes, felt the need to make changes, but every time the change is with a sense of running the line between useless but meta. For example, they might change how something happens so that it does still occur but plays with your expectations, as the film knows that you are familiar with the material but wants to surprise you anyway. SPOILERS: A child is still killed by a truck but it isn’t the little boy this time, though the film hints it will be first. Jud is still cut in the heel but not in the same location, though it hints that it would be before it happens. END OF SPOILERS. This film renders itself a meta homage and perhaps is better that way. It’s tributing and glorifying the original.


The Question of Remake

The changes that do work are largely within the modern film language. The effects, cinematography and the performances are all very strong. It’s with a visibly up to date and perhaps with a higher budget than the original. This keeps the film pleasing to watch, which helps the remake. It is, otherwise, and quite wants to be, the same story. Much like Evil Dead, which wants to homage the original Evil Dead. It doesn’t feel completely unnecessary though, because of the updated cinematography, effects and performance, where the effects of Evil Dead the original was an important and defining characteristic of that film.



As a Horror, it is perhaps tame by today’s standards, but then the film was always a book and therefor was always story focused to begin with. The best Stephen King adaptations changed the source material quite considerably, and Pet Sematary (2019) doesn’t want to be anything more or different to this story or the original film. This almost helps the film, it’s self aware and therefore respectful of what it is. It is perhaps a film that should just be understood as a loving send up to the original film, perhaps urging and almost insisting you watch the original rather than being disrespectful to it. By no means should it replace it but almost like a sequel it is meant to show a love of the original story, Pet Sematary is looking at the original Pet Sematary that much.



Moving to a rural area, Louis (Jason Clarke) and his family find that there is a pet cemetery on their land named and misspelt as ‘Pet Semetary’. After the death of their pet cat they find, that beyond this cemetery, the grounds hold the power to bring the dead back to life.





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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.


Films Mentioned

Carrie (d. Brian De Palma USA 1976)

Carrie (d. Kimberly Peirce USA 2013)

Evil Dead (d. Sam Raimi USA 1981)

Evil Dead (d. Fede Álvarez USA 2013)

It (d. Andy Muschietti USA/Canada 2017)

Pet Sematary (d. Mary Lambert USA 1989)

Pet Sematary (d. Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer USA 2019)

Suspiria (d. Dario Argento Italy 1977)

The Shining (d. Stanley Kubrick UK/USA 1980)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Stephen King

Interview with the Directors

Interview with Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz

True Horror Featurette


Differences to the Book

Side by Side


If you liked this

IT (2017): ‘Horror or Comedy, Pennywise?’ – A Film Review

Lords of Chaos (2018): ‘One Event in a Complex History’ – A Film Review

Happy Death Day 2U (2019): ‘A Step Back in Horror Filmmaking’ – A Film Review

Dumbo (2019): ‘Burton Ruins Disney Again’ – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of….


Pet Sematary (d. Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer USA 2019)

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