Pet Sematary (1989)

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(Viewed 9/2/2015, available on Netflix)

I hate to come down so harshly on a movie screen-written by Stephen King as an adaptation of his own book. It’s possible that I’m coming at it from a bad perspective, like attempting to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey after seeing all of the derivative works. Maybe after years of fast-cut digital movies, I don’t have the attention span to appreciate the pacing. Maybe having read the book first, I’ve ruined my shot at enjoying the movie.

Honestly, I just don’t think it’s a very good movie, following the general trend of Stephen King films. Pet Sematary comes with enough elements to make it truly terrifying, but it never quite gets off the ground. There’s a beautiful young family whose perfect life goes terribly wrong in a perfectly real-world way. Ancient, evil Powers Beyond Human Comprehension bring back the beloved, but brings them back . . . wrong. A rational man of science is driven to acts of madness. A possessed child kills everything in sight. Gory special effects are, well, effectively gory. All of these things should come together to take the viewer on a creepy descent into madness and metaphysical uncertainty. It just never gets there. The characters just sort of wander through the movie.

I truly enjoyed Fred Gwynne’s performance as the old Mainer Jud, which is no surprise because I loved him as Herman Munster. He’s easily the best and most believable actor in the movie, and I would have loved to have seen more of his relationships with the other characters.

I can recommend Pet Sematary to anyone merely looking for a Stephen King film or anyone interested in the Fred Gwynne’s post Munsters work. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for most viewers, simply because it’s not very good, and not bad enough to enjoy.

-Erin Kinchen

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