I guess if you already did then you might as well go for it with something new. The 2019 Pet Sematary remake was a movie I wasn’t looking forward too much after not enjoying the first film all that much, but I had my fingers crossed it would be a little better. I remember there being a bit of hype leading up to the movie, but I don’t remember to what extent. I know that we were coming off the heels of IT which seemed to revitalize Stephen King properties and their potential, but it could have also been the casting of Jason Clarke in the lead and John Lithgow as Judd. I don’t think I ever watched the trailers because at the time I had no real interest in it, so going into this movie I only had the first one as a sort of base of what to expect. As I said in that first review, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Let’s see if that was the same this time around.
Jason Clarke as Louis and John Lithgow as Judd immediately elevates the remake from the first one since one of my big issues with the original was that the acting just wasn’t great. Keep in mind though, this isn’t a movie that is going to highlight the acting abilities of either of these actors, but it does help to have two guys that are capable of doing a lot with a little. Jason Clarke is also a lot more emotional throughout the film and we can really connect with his loss more than the actor that played the role in the first film.
The biggest thing though that struck me about this movie was the subversion of expectations. From the opening shot we actually see the end of the film but with no characters and I for one immediately said, “well I know how we get to this point”. The funny thing is that I was way off base and wasn’t expecting the movie to deviate from the original as much as it did. I say that like it’s a different story which it’s not entirely, but it is very much different in the last third than the first one and I assume the book.
That brings me to my statement of, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. This is a statement I say regarding these movies, but is also a statement that is striking to a character like Louis who should be told this before reviving anyone. In the first film it was more of a “just because you can make an adaptation, doesn’t mean you actually should because does it actually work as a movie?” Well the original when I think back on it, I may have given a little less credit than it actually deserves, but it could also be that the writing and directing in this one is just better so it highlights moments in the original that I didn’t think much of.
One of the important problems I had with the first film was the lack of explanation for some of the paranormal stuff going on. I understand that some things don’t need answers, but this movie still does the same thing of not quite explaining what’s going on. I didn’t have as much of a problem with the dead guy showing up so that Gage can see him and influence some of the characters, but again I just wish it was understood more of what exactly was happening.
The other event that really irked me was how Louis kept going to the basement and was practically teleporting somewhere, but I guess he wasn’t because he was actually asleep, but I guess he was because his feet were dirty. I just never understood the point in it or what message they were trying to get across with it. This remake did however highlight and elevate Rachel and her sister. That was something that just seemed to be placed there in the first film for the sake of something creepy and it feels somewhat the same in this movie except it’s more involved I suppose. I just think it worked a lot better in this one so I had a better experience with it in the story.
I guess the best thing about this movie is that it takes the story and twists it to give you a different result than what you had in the original. I’m not entirely a huge fan of the story, but that goes for both movies. The motivations of Louis in both movies seems to not be explained that well other than the fact that he just wants to bring someone or something back. Anyone in their right mind would decide against trying to bring something back, especially a person. Now in the book it may make more sense than it does in the movie, but it’s just an issue I have because the motivations just aren’t there to work for me.
Ultimately, this movie is an improvement on the original, but more for the fact that it’s a few decades newer so the effects are better and they got a better cast and crew to work on it. The change up for where the story eventually goes was a nice switch from what we got in the original, but it’s not enough to save this movie. In an era where we are getting quality horror films every year and more of them rather than your typical kind of throwaway horror film, this movie felt like it could stand out from the rest. Unfortunately it just doesn’t and falls more in the category of being made just to get the Stephen King fans that jumped on board with “IT”.
I think the studio would have been better off leaving this one behind and understanding that the story while interesting, just doesn’t warrant a sequel when there’s not enough depth to either of the films for us to really need another one. I will say that this is for sure the better of the two, but by no means is it a standout movie. Unless you have some urge to seek out this movie and watch it, I would just skip it and forget about it. The original has the advantage of being a classic kind of horror film from an era where it might work better, but for the new one, it’s just not worth the time.