A few years ago, I gave a glowing review to the engaging adaptation of Stephen King’s IT (which is now retroactively referred to as IT: Chapter One) which once again ignited interest in Mr King’s works.
There really seems to be no middle ground with Stephen King adaptations, they’re either very, very good (Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption and the original Carrie) or really, really bad (Christine, Maximum Overdrive and 2013’s Carrie) there’s a Yin and a Yang, so if IT is the Yin, does that give away my opinion of Pet Sematary?
The Creed family move from Boston to the smaller town of Ludlow, and find that their house is situated right next to a pet cemetery, and that the town has a ritual of burying their pets there, unfortunately, the dead don’t stay dead in this graveyard.
There’s a line of dialogue in this film which I find sums the film up perfectly: “sometimes, Dead is better.”
Okay so with my hand laid down so hard that I’ve knocked over the poker table, I might as well come out and say it: I really, really, really did not like this film.
Remember a few weeks ago, when reviewing Us when I said the best horror builds atmosphere and doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares? Well, the screenwriters of this film could have done well to have read that. A broom falling over in the wind can make people jump, doing so in a horror film is as appealing as a Gary Glitter comeback tour.
I remember thinking that IT had reasons to exist, it updated the story and did some new films, with Pet Sematary, however, it feels as though we’ve seen everything it has to offer at least a handful of times. Firstly, it’s to do with things coming back from the dead, which is as familiar a setting as my living room at this point, yes they’re not strictly speaking zombies, but are there any logical differences?
I feel bad for mauling this film as severely so far, as the acting performances are the shining diamond in the turd mountain. Jason Clarke is leading the film, while he can seem a bit bland, there is something I like about him, he seems very adaptable, I remember liking him in The Aftermath, not long ago. John Lithgow also plays Jud, the closest this film comes to an interesting character.
The direction is also very uninspired, adding very little to the films atmosphere with its visuals instead going for a cheap shocking visual, there’s a particular scene involving some guy whose brain is hanging out and it looks like he has a bowl of jelly in the side of his head. It’s immediate comparison to IT again does it no favours, and that was very tactfully shot for maximum tension, this just offers uninspired, hackneyed visuals.
So, we have: the undead, jump scares, and a creepy child, and what does this combination lead us to? A film without a single original thought in its head, much less an entertaining one. It has no concept of tension or pacing, it just blasts you in the face as soon as you walk in, like an obnoxious roommate.
Upon doing some research, I discovered that this is the first of many Stephen King adaptations to be released this year, and it sets a pretty depressingly low bar, a bar that I hope can be easily surpassed later this year by IT: Chapter Two, as for this film; well, some adaptations are best left buried.