Pet Sematary (2019)

Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jeté Laurence, Alyssa Levine

Directed by: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer

Rating: 1 2 3 4 and a half

The year is 1990. My best friend and I are returning home after a night out in Manchester. It's about midnight. At the kitchen table sit my sister and her best friend, both ashen-faced and shaking.

'What’s the matter with you?' we ask.

'Zeeeeelda!' they both wail.

Next day, after church and Sunday lunch (cuz that's how my family rolled) we all squeeze onto the sofa to watch Pet Sematary (on VHS, of course, rented from the Post Office) and see what all the fuss is about.

Whether it was the momentous sisterly build up that made Zelda, or rather, the anticipation of Zelda (who is, after all a fairly incidental character in the film, a flashback of childhood fear that haunts the mother character) so effing terrifying I'm not sure, but terrify us she did, making her very name a byword for unbearable scariness for years. (It was only 20 years later, rewatching the film as an adult, that she lost her sinister power, and I realised that being scared of a severely disabled person who can't even leave their bed is pretty shan...)

Was I really about to put myself through that again, with a remake?

Hell yeah!

Of course, the film's cheery strapline, 'Sometimes dead is better', could equally apply to many horror remakes of the 21st century (here's looking at you, Nightmare on Elm Street). But fear not (or better yet, fear a lot) because this particular remakes ROCKS!

Pet Sematary 2019 takes Stephen King's harrowing themes of loss and grief and really runs with them – or, rather, limps, ankle tendons severed...

Jeté Laurence and Amy Seimetz in Pet Sematary

In case you haven't seen the original (and if not, why not? Philistine!), a brief synopsis. The picture book perfect Creed family have just moved from the city to a small rural town, ready for a more leisurely pace of life. Dad Louis (Jason Clarke) is a doctor, mother Rachel (Amy Seimetz, lending indie credit to the movie) a stay-at-home mom; daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) loves cars and ballet, toddler Gage is a wide-eyed wee cutie, cat Church is a furry purry darling. Surrounded by beautiful woodland, their new home seems idyllic. But something dark is lurking in them there woods, and it's calling Louis's name. And something dark is lurking in Rachel's soul too – a secret even more horrible than it was in the first movie. And its name?


And that, my little chickens, is all I'm going to say. Except, ooh, ooh, John Lithgow plays the Fred Gwynne role and he's great, and there's one bit that’s nearly as scary as Saduko coming out of the telly in Ring. (Original version, obvs.)

John Lithgow as Jud in Pet Sematary

Mixing the unsettling folk horror of The Wicker Man (need I say it, original version) with some pleasingly lurid blood and gore, Pet Sematary 2019 is a compulsively gripping and deliciously enjoyable horror flick. But what are you doing still reading this? Go see for yourselves. Because sometimes the remake is actually better...

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