In 1983 writer Stephen King unleashed the novel “Pet Sematary” on the public, and in 1989 Hollywood unleashed a film version of the novel, and since the film was a hit it was only natural a sequel would follow. “Pet Sematary Two”, however, released in 1992, was not the hit hoped for, so fans accepted the fact the story might never be revisited. Flash forward to 2019 and movie fans have a new film version of the King novel, directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. The film follows the Creed family on their move from Boston to the town of Ludlow, Maine. Not only have the Creed family, led by Louis (Jason Clarke), a doctor, moved to a small town, but to a house with large wooded area around their home. Shortly after the family moves in, mother Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and daughter Ellie (Jete Laurence) discover a procession of children taking a deceased dog into the woods while wearing animal masks, with one beating a drum. Being a curious child, Ellie later sneaks off to the woods to see where the children went, and discovers a pet cemetery, with a sign labeling the area a “pet sematary.” While walking among the graves she meets up with the families neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), who warns Ellie to stay out of the woods alone. This fact startles both Ellie and her mom, and they head back to their new home hopefully wiser, or one would hope. Meanwhile, Dr. Widmyer, who is working at the local university hospital, attempts to save the life of a student who has been struck by a car. Due to the extreme nature of his injuries, the student doesn’t make it, and the doctor is devastated. In fact, Dennis is so upset he has a vivid dream of the student warning him to not to “venture beyond” an area of the woods behind the pet cemetery that has been blocked off with a wall of large tree limbs. As one might expect in a horror movie, most warnings are ignored, less we have no story. As the family is celebrating Halloween, Jud discovers the families beloved cat, Church, has been hit and killed more than likely by one of the many large tanker trucks that frequently use the two lane road in front of the families home. Jud and Dennis decide to keep the death of Church a secret from Ellie to save her the heartbreak. When Jud and Dennis sneak off to bury Church, Jud takes Dennis to an area of the woods that contains an ancient burial ground, supposedly inhabited by a spirit known as the Wendigo, a mythical evil spirit native to the northern forests of the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes region that is able to bring things back to life. This is the area where Jud convinces Dennis to bury Church. Eek. After Dennis decides to tell Ellie about Church, she calmly tells her dad that Church was in her room the night before. After the initial shock, Dennis observes the strange behavior of Church, and after he violently scratches Ellie, decides to leave the cat in a remote area of the woods. Meanwhile, the entire family, even little brother Gage (played by twins Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) have been experiencing horrible visions and nightmares, which all lead up to a tragic event at Ellie’s birthday party. Less to spoil anything, I will simply say one of the children does not live after an accident with one of the aforementioned tanker trucks. While dealing with his wife’s devastating grief and his own, Dennis makes the decision to visit the ancient burial ground again, this time with his child. Let me just say the child that “comes back” is far from sweet and innocent, and as the films tag line presents: sometimes dead is better. The returned child reeks havoc on the family and Jud, and the film ends with a heart pounding thrill. For those who have read the novel and have seen the first film, this effort takes plenty of liberties, resulting in several surprise twists. The actors involved due a fine job, and Laurence is perfectly cast as Ellie, who carries the weight of the film squarely on her shoulders. The film features plenty of “jump worthy” moments, as I call them, and the friend I attended the film with left me with several bruises from being punched in the shoulder so often. Thus the film definitely succeed on that level. If you enjoy scary movies, I suggest a viewing of the new spine tingling “Pet Sematary”, just make sure you don’t attend the film with someone with the tendency to punch when startled. (Rated R) 🐱🐱🐱
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