Fair Warning this will not be a spoiler-free Impressions
So I was actually pretty pumped about this movie, which is surprising for me given my noted record on hating the prevalence for horror movie remakes. I have tried over the years to be more accepting of this happening and going into the movies with an open mind, although I still tend not to be the biggest fan. Yet something about the trailers really spoke to me, I thought that this seemed like one of the exceptions that might honestly surpass the original. It didn’t hurt that I don’t have the highest opinion of the original. Before this upsets fans, I think it’s a good movie, I just didn’t think it was great nor do I think it’s aged that well. So with all that in mind, I finally got to see the new Pet Sematary, and I am a bit mixed.
It’s important to note that a lot of people are complaining about the fact that the trailers for the movie clearly spoiled that it was Ellie and not Gage who would be dying and brought back. Until I saw the movie, I didn’t actually mind this, after seeing the movie I sort of understand why it’s come up so often. The movie attempts at several moments to imply that like the original young Gage would be the one that would die. The problem is I don’t think that the spoiler in the trailers ruined this, I think the movie itself did. While Ellie talks about death in regards to Gage and things like that, leading the viewer to believe it will be Gage, the boy himself is only on screen for brief moments, and there are almost no interactions with him. Ellie is so much front and center with the movie that even without the trailer giving it away, it’s still fairly obvious what was going to happen.
This is really my problem with this movie overall, especially in comparison to the original, it’s the story is just simply not as well developed as it should be. Both the original and this suffer a bit to me with pacing because everything moves so quickly after the child is brought back, but I felt the original was able to tackle this problem better. I can’t actually place my finger on why exactly I was left disappointed, but when the ending happened my husband, and I turned to each other and said “eh.” I don’t mind the changes they made with the conclusion or the direction they took it, but for some reason, it just didn’t land. I hate being so vague but there was just something… missing as far as the story is concerned. It just didn’t seem to develop right, and it left the climax a little anti-climatic. Not bad just not great.
It is also odd that I would say this because a lot more detail is given about certain situations, such as Rachel and her dead sister, but even with the added detail something just felt a bit off.
Despite that, overall I still enjoyed this movie a great deal. The atmosphere was terrific, and I would argue much better than the original. It also brought great tension and some decent scares, though it did rely a bit heavily on jump scares for my taste. This movie is creepy though, and there was a lot of detail put in to not only making Ellie scary but the world around her. From the Pet Sematary itself looking better, to the place where they bring her back having more personality, and a darker one at that. Louis also has more interaction with the woods and falling into the horror of the place even before Ellie dies. Rachel being tormented by her guilt over her dead sister also brings some unsettling moments that help to add to the movie. It creates a much darker movie overall, it’s not just Ellie’s death and rebirth that brings the horror, it’s everything about the place that they are living in.
Also notably while I had issues with the story overall Jud is a huge exception. Maybe it’s my love for John Lithgow, though I only think that plays so much of a role, but I found the character to be much better developed in this story. He gets closer to the family, has more personality, and a lot of detail went into his look from his tobacco-stained beard, to even having a wrinkled shirt at Ellie’s funeral. Jud really stood out to me in this adaption as being more than just the weird guy who accidentally leads Louis down the wrong path. Louis himself also has slightly better character development.
So what’s my bottom line. While I hate to keep harping on the “original vs. remake” point, I feel like it will give other people the best idea of what to expect, and whether or not they want to see it. I like the original well enough, and I liked this one well enough. However, I wanted this movie to be great, both being good is not bad, but there was so much room to really take it to a new level. In some ways the new movie did, the atmosphere is better, and it’s a darker movie overall. Still, the story left me wishing for more development, and the climax didn’t hit for me like I would have liked it to. If you loved the original, there is a good chance you might honestly not like this movie, in fact, there do seem to be a lot of adverse reactions from those that were big fans. If you were like me and liked it, then you will probably like this one as well, but it just didn’t manage to be a ten for me. It was darker, scarier (for me), and even creepier, but I am just not sure that it was better which is what I wanted.
I would say pick a night and enjoy both, but just don’t expect either to change your world.