Remakes are almost always a tricky situation. The original Pet Sematary is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and the new version recently hit theaters. While I enjoyed both the original and the remake, it’s easy to see why some would prefer the original, which more closely follows the story in the book.
The new Pet Sematary took a different direction by changing which child was hit by a truck in the road. For me, this major change made a lot of sense because of Ellie asking about death earlier in the movie. She’s more than aware of what death is, whereas Gage isn’t. This allows her to understand what happens to her when she’s brought back from the dead. I found this to be an interesting creative choice.
As we know, not all adaptations are exactly like their source material. Some are better for it, while others are not. With Pet Sematary, this fell somewhere in the middle for me. I enjoyed it when I watched it. I didn’t feel the grief quite as much as I did when reading the book though. It just oozes off of the pages and the acting never quite brought it off of the screen in the way I was hoping for.
There are plenty of horror elements in this movie, most of which aren’t mean to get you jumping out of your seat. They take a slow burn approach to the story, even though the movie isn’t all that long. Even though I had the general idea of what was going to happen, the couple of twists they threw in felt worth it.
One aspect that this movie didn’t focus much on was Jud’s wife Norma. She wasn’t in the original and she’s not technically alive in this one. We do at least briefly see her through Ellie. However, she’s used more as a tool to haunt and shame Jud. Based on how they chose to use Norma, I don’t think it was really necessary to even have her in it. That moment felt the most like fan service. Thankfully it was brief enough to not have a huge impact.
On the topic of the ending, I felt it was a nice little twist and a good way to end this particular version of the story. While I absolutely love the book’s ending, the movie’s had roughly the same effect. No words are really needed as they all walk towards Gage in the car and Louis unlocks it. The family remains, but we never know if they leave Gage as he is or if they wind up burying him and bringing him back. The thing is, we don’t need to know the answer to that lingering question.
Even with so many Stephen King adaptations in the works right now, it was nice to see an updated version of this movie. Effects have advanced so much since 1989 and you could see the difference, especially when it came to Victor Pascow. Although, I didn’t have a problem with how the original movie aged after having watched it recently. Was this the best Stephen King movie I’ve seen? Not at all, but I still had a good time watching it.