Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel Pet Sematary is atmospheric, tense, and entertaining.
When Louis and his family relocate to rural Maine, they hope for the tranquility of the countryside. However, they discover a mysterious burial ground in the woods of their new property…
An adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name (written by Jeff Buhler, with a screen story by Matt Greenberg), Pet Sematary is an engaging horror. The narrative is well constructed, revealing only what the audience needs to know until the time is right. The film builds to an uneasy conclusion, with a climax that compels. Pacing in directors Kölsch and Widmyer’s film is great. Pet Sematary feels like it is building towards something striking without neglecting the characters.
Horror elements are very well executed. The movie is atmospheric from the get-go. The setting is a major part of this; tropes of isolation and transformation are strong. There are the requisite jump scares, but overall the film is smarter than this. Pet Sematary presents a portrayal of the abject that works on a quiet level despite the frantic action.
Kölsch and Widmyer get the tone of the film right. Some aspects of the film are absurd, yet the film shrewdly laughs at itself rather than being po-faced. Notwithstanding, the atmosphere means these moments are light relief in an overarching darkness. Special effects in the film are good. Church is great; the cat certainly looks the part post transformation. Performances in Pet Sematary are decent, particularly Jeté Laurence and Jason Clarke. The sound design heightens tension rather effectively.
Few would describe the 1989 version of Pet Sematary as a definitive adaptation. Bearing this in mind, Kölsch and Widmyer’s film feels in no way unnecessary. Pet Sematary is a very enjoyable horror movie.