Pet Sematary Movie Review: Sometimes Franchise Fred Is Better

You know me, I’d rather watch Pet Sematary 3 than a remake of Pet Sematary, but in a way Pet Sematary 2019 can be both. If it were really up to me, Pet Sematary 3 would have come out in the ‘90s and we’d be on Pet Sematary 10 by now, but 30 years have passed and both Pet Sematary movies are valid takes. They do Hamlet more often than that, and frankly they do Carrie more often too.

I’m going to assume you know the story of Pet Sematary like I do. I will discuss spoilers for the Stephen King novel and 1989 film but I’ll avoid spoiling anything about the new film except the big change they’ve already revealed in the trailer. Since there’s already a faithful adaptation of Pet Sematary, this film gets to explore what if the story played out differently? That would still be a good story.

I’m glad the trailers showed the switch between Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) and Ellie (Jete Laurence) because it gave us time to make peace with the fact that a key element of Pet Sematary would change. When you see that this  movie is much more Ellie’s story than it was before, the change totally makes sense.

Pet Sematary was always about Louis (Jason Clarke) and Rachel (Amy Siemetz) avoiding having the difficult discussion with Ellie about death. That’s much more in depth in this film. Louis is ready to tell Ellie about death but Rachel scowls at him. It makes sense that a doctor would be an atheist. They don’t come out and say atheism, but Louis doesn’t believe in an afterlife. That’s going to really challenge Louis later given the very premise of this film.

Jud (John Lithgow) is also a widower so the subject of death comes up with Ellie meets him too. Given all these varied adult forces deciding what Ellie should or shouldn’t know, it is absolutely right that Ellie bears the ultimate burden for it, and ultimately gets firsthand knowledge about which grown-ups are only speculating.

There’s also more emphasis on the idea that the Creeds moved away from Boston to slow down from the hustle and bustle of a big city, and Louis’s job in the ER. And the worse things get, it raises the question of whether this was a good move for them. Maybe they should have stayed and faced their city problems. Running away only brings more problems. Louis won’t give up on the country life though and that’s a different form of the inevitability of bad decisions. Read the signs, man. Listen to the God whisper, or in this case Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed).

The Creeds really are a great family. I’m really sorry bad things have to happen to them, but this is Pet Sematary. What’s important is I believe every single one of these characters. By the time they do extreme things, I understood exactly where they were coming from.

Pet Sematary was a pretty graphic movie in 1989 but this one is more so. All the big moments are more: Pascow, Zelda, Church. King purists will be happy that this film addresses the Wendigo, albeit briefly. The truck driver is texting because of course he would be in 2019.

I’m so glad I now have three Pet Sematary movies to watch. Even though this one is a retelling of the Creed family story, it comes at those poignant themes in a uniquely powerful way. Hopefully this time they can get to Pet Sematary 10!

Written by
Fred Topel also known as Franchise Fred has been an entertainment journalist since 1999 and specializes in writing about film, television and video games. Fred has written for several outlets including About.com, CraveOnline, and Rotten Tomatoes among others. His favorite films include Toy Story 2, The Rock, Face/Off, True Lies, Labyrinth, The Big Hit, Michael Moore's The Big One, and Casablanca. We are very lucky and excited to have Fred as part of the We Live Entertainment team. Follow him on Twitter @FranchiseFred and @FredTopel

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