“What is this place?” asks Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke). “Bury your animal,” says take-charge elderly neighbor, Judson Crandle (John Lithgow). “What exactly are we doing here?” Louis asks. “Burying your daughter’s cat,” says Jud. “That’s all?” Louis says, skeptically. “Nothing but,” Jud responds. It’s late at night. They’re deep in the dark woods of rural Maine. Thunder and lightning overhead, not to mention ominous music on the soundtrack. So we know something spooky is happening. That’s the setup for this second film version of Stephen King’s 1983 novel, “Pet Sematary.” (First version, 1989.)
Does “Church” — daughter Ellie’s cat — stay dead? Why do Louis and his wife see dead people? Are you good at suspending your disbelief? It might help if you see “Pet Sematary.”
Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz are convincing as physician Louis Creed and wife Rachel who move from Boston to rural Ludlow, Maine, with their 8-year old daughter Ellie — well played by Jete Laurence — and 2-year son, Gage, played by brothers Hugo and Lucas Lavoie. John Lithgow is Jud Crandle, their only neighbor. He’s a codger who knows the deep woods and its legends. “There are places in the world,” says Jud, “that are older than we are. Things happen there we cannot explain.” Such a place is in the Creed’s woods. “There is something out there,” says Jud, “that brings things back. But sometimes, dead is better.”
Also in the cast are Linda E. Smith and Frank Schorpion as Rachel’s parents, visiting from Boston for Ellie’s 9th birthday. Alyssa Brooke Levine is Rachel’s older sister, Zelda, who died when Rachel was a child.
“Pet Sematary,” directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, with script by Matt Greenberg, from Stephen King’s novel, has its moments but, as we say, they’re few and far between. Most of them are “jump scares” — sudden noises on the soundtrack, unexpected and loud — sometimes scary. The roar of speeding semi-trucks on the narrow road in front of the Creed’s house, for example. Visuals, too, are sometimes creepy, thanks to cinematographer Laurie Rose’s shots in the dark woods behind the house. What’s not scary is the story line which, as it unwinds, becomes more and more like an unbelievable slasher flick than a supernatural horror film. Silly enough, in fact, that some in the audience had a good time laughing.
Rated R for horror violence, bloody images and language, “Pet Sematary” runs 101 minutes. I do like a good horror movie. This one is not.
“Pet Sematary” —
Not very scary;
Not one I’d pick.