“Pet Sematary” (1989) | Film Review (May 2019)

Film Review THUMB


An Introduction to this Blog Post:

Hi guys! Welcome back to another blog post and something especially nice and hopefully enjoyable in return! 🙂 I handwrote this film review back in May 2019 which is why it’s titled as such above. The review is broken up into many organized (although it seems disorganized in my notebook, trust me) sections that you will soon see. Just beware, SPOILERS are likely, so if you don’t want that, don’t read this post!!

I have another book review I am going to be starting soon (CoM), perhaps even tonight, and also more film reviews. For now, here are some dates!

Troubleshooting the film (my laptop’s disc no longer works, so problem solving was required!): 5/10/19

The first watch thru: 5/16

The second watch thru: 5/19

The review itself: 5/17, 5/27, 5/28

Now, let’s get to it, shall we? 🙂


CHOSEN FILM:

“Pet Sematary” (1989)


RATING:

R


DIRECTOR; SCREENPLAY WRITER:

Mary Lambert; Stephen King


TRIGGER WARNINGS:

Alcohol/substance use, suicide (explicit), death, homicide, extreme thinness (Zelda), “crazy”


THEMES:

Life and death, meaning, horror, bad acting, ghosts/supernatural forces, burial grounds, responsibilities


PLOT SUMMARY:

When the Creed family moves into their new home in Maine, they discover an old pet sematary in their backyard. Beyond it exists an old Indian burial ground with magical powers that threaten the lives nearest to it. At work, Louis deals with a man brought in dying who later becomes a benevolent spirit that warns about the burial grounds. The family’s cat meets his end and their neighbor, Jud, shows Louis the burial ground. Later, Louis’s youngest son Gage dies tragically and Louis realizes he’ll do whatever it takes to have more time with Gage–even if that means losing everything else.


PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS FROM THE BOOK/REVIEW DISCLAIMER:

Because I read the book I’m biased and uniquely aware of what changed and what stayed the same. Even if I had watched this film first, the same thing would apply.

Just know that my judgments are uniquely my own; they are merely my own thoughts on the production of this film and an assessment in the ways in which the story was told, as I see it from my own eyes. It is a clear reflection on where I currently sit in life and my recovery. I watched it to review it, as I do most forms of entertainment these days, for the people out there who care about what I think and want to read and be forewarned of issues they may wish to avoid or distance themselves from. Although I may be biased, I am authentic and honest in my review, as I hope you will later see. I express myself for what I feel the film shone in and where darkness fell. I tried to create as well-rounded an experience for it and I look forward to getting the chance to continue my reviews in the future. Thank you. ❤ xxx


SIMILARITIES & DIFFERENCES FROM BOOK ADAPTATION:

Differences:

  • Missy Dandridge (maid/helper) kills herself [her medical stuff is somewhat focused on in the film in replacement to how Norma’s was in the book]
  • There is no Norma (Jud’s wife; which could have helped the plot, I think)
  • No Jud (neighbor) and Louis friendship
  • Zelda (Rachel’s older sister) is not mentioned until later in the plot
  • Times of day and small details changed [J and L bury Church (cat) in day versus at night; C’s broken neck is only mentioned in dialogue later, the green trash bag is shown as a black one; L goes to Gage’s burial site during the day versus the night]
  • How Timmy (a once resurrected adolescent) and his father Bill died [B doesn’t kill T, they both die in the house which is set on fire. Also there was no Timmy verbally attacking J and his friends; which makes sense because without Norma being around there wouldn’t be much point for them to receive heated jabs]
  • Kite scene changed with more of the family and J and such [which was fine]
  • Ellie (L’s daughter) was for Elaine, I’m pretty sure, in the book but was changed to Ellen in the movie
  • Establishment of Steve (co-worker)/work for L is missing [Steve doesn’t play much of a role except briefly at the funeral]
  • E tells about Pawscow dream to grandparents before getting on the plane
  • Also E & R don’t have that conversation where she’s worried about L and says they’ll be fine but what about L?
  • R’s tire blew out instead of her falling asleep/having other car troubles (this was okay too)
  • No bee sting for Gage
  • P doesn’t outright mention the Pet Sematary to L before he dies, but I like how they connected it to J with the stonier quote later which is even better in some ways
  • P’s ghost has much more of a presence in the film than in the book, maybe because he’s visually pleasing [able to communicate the plot directly forwards]. I don’t mind this change, in fact, I actually quite welcome it. I think it rounded out his character more and he was more benevolent and kinder in the film that creepy and eerie like in the book. Especially when he helps R & E realize who he is.
  • No ambulance problems at the university (where L works)
  • No calling P’s family/at the morgue [when L wanted reassurance that his dream hadn’t actually happened]
  • G never chokes like he did before the truck scene (where he is killed)
  • J’s dog Spot in the film is actually meaner and less docile than how he was described in the book. With the film, none of the other returning pets are mentioned so this may account for/make up for this changed detail
  • Zelda’s actress is like 30 years old rather than being 10 y/o
  • R leaves out how Z wanted her to be dead instead, for her to be in pain, for her to suffer like Z did
  • No in-laws trouble further explored except when it’s seen at the funeral fight
  • J does not warn L about the noises or images he may see upon the Micmac journey. He says a little of this but not as much as in the book
  • The truck driver that kills G is never mentioned again
  • G isn’t as messed up looking as in the book (when he’s resurrected)
  • When J tells L to take care of his family, L doesn’t say how his son needs him too.

Similarities:

  • P’s classic red shorts
  • “The soil of a man’s heart is stonier”; “Sometimes dead is better” [the 3 time repetition made it lose its effect though]; “Darling” (at the end); “What you buy is what you own and what you own always comes home” (voice-over).
  • PS opening scene w/ voice-overs of children was spooky as they talked about some of the pets (Biffer the Sniffer) mentioned in the book
  • Eerie J [even more so since no further relationship is provided] of J watching L’s house from across the street
  • L and his “under advisement” line 🙂
  • Great depiction of R & Z’s memories and the emotional dialogue/VO of R to L about how Z died and what she thought/felt
  • J to L (like in the book’s concept): “Death is where the pain stops and the good memories begin”
  • G’s shoe falls off (good detail)
  • After fight at funeral L glimpses G’s hand in his casket
  • J falls asleep

STRENGTHS:

Actor playing Louis was great at emotionlessness and anxiety at the climax; good depiction of Zelda and her appearing as Killer Gage; Pascow as a ghost; Killer Gage is pretty cool; when Rachel goes in to kill Louis at the end–that was a very nice depiction; I loved that Killer Gage wanted to play with Jud, Rachel and Louis [phone call was a nice touch] and that Gage told Louis when he was dying again, “No fair.” Hahaha


WEAKNESSES:

Bad acting [L especially, like one of those bad acting SyFy movies about killer dinosaurs and mutated creatures by trading valuable/emotional acting with a quick output and potential profit (which maybe is why they remade it for 2019); P and college students don’t look college aged; E wasn’t the greatest actress either; close-up to L and his “Noooo’s” when G dies was more hilarious than emotional for me; P can warn but not interfere was missing although it was shown so maybe that offsets it.


EDITING/MUSIC:

Pet Sematary song by The Ramones at the credits was a nice touch; scenes had a natural transition: close-ups of trees or faces; intense music at climax.


VIDEOGRAPHY/VISUAL IMAGERY:

Loved the touch of the dilapidated house when L walks into J’s after the murders, how the burial ground seems to have taken over, the moss and fog and mud, then the switch when L picks up R’s shoe and the house returns to normal; the shuffle between L and Killer Gage; L’s calm and madness when carrying R out of J’s house and heading back to the Micmac to bury her; opening shot of the PS–a little slow but also artsy; good visual of the deadfall; transition with P was very abrupt but may be an indication of how his death was.


QUESTIONS I FOUND MYSELF PONDERING:

  1. Was P’s ghost/dying form meant to simply move the plot forward or was there some counter-influence he possessed to warn L about the powers of the Micmac burial ground before tragedy struck?
  2. If it’s L’s job as a doctor to care and save his patients, why does P take a particular fascination and eagerness to help the Creed family? Wouldn’t L have tried just as hard to save someone else as he did with P? What makes the Creed’s so special?
  3. Why do some of the things P says reflects or mimics what J says? (stonier, dead speak, etc.)
  4. What can’t P help J stay awake? Why is he only connected to the Creed family? Why does he only have so much range?
  5. Why doesn’t R do anything more than scream at L to get the baby? (When G runs out in the road)
  6. Why doesn’t R run at all from Killer Gage but obviously gets killed even after seeing him with a scalpel, seeing J is dead and knowing that G is going to kill her next? (In the book the weapon was hidden behind his back)
  7. In the reveal, R comes from hanging out of the attic. How did KG manage this? How did he move J to hide under the comforter?
  8. Why does KG fly from the attic onto L?
  9. Why can’t L get KG off quicker? (KG is still only 2 y/o)
  10. Why does everyone have their weapons in plain sight?
  11. Why does KG not put up more of a fight against L before he’s injected?

MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS:

  1. L’s pajamas are scrubs [I totally judged him for it]
  2. L doesn’t wear gloves at work on P’s case [that’s just unhygienic!]
  3. In L’s dream P mentions how the Micmac burial ground is “where the dead speak” (or walk, if my memory there is correct). J told this same thing to E about cemeteries (“grave markings are how the dead speak”).
  4. When Missy kills herself she is shown writing a suicide note before she explicitly uses a specific method to die. I think this would have been equally strong to depict with her feet in the shot (as was shown) and then pan towards her shadow on the wall rather than a zoomed out shot showing the nasty nitty gritty of her death. It would have the same emotional impact without giving vulnerable populations a glorified notion of suicide. Sometimes less is more.
  5. Before the scene for Missy’s funeral there’s a random and maybe accidentally left in shot of J and L at the MM
  6. When first visiting the PS altogether, R is shown self-soothing w/ G & her issues with death are brought into the picture
  7. There’s also L’s anger shown well when he leaves from the home to go to work when the death issue is brought up again
  8. Because N isn’t in the plot MD’s death brings up R’s issues with death even more
  9. J to L before leaving the funeral corrects L that C is HIS cat now because of what happened at the BG, insinuating the theme that what you buy is what you own/your responsibility which was showcased in the book too
  10. When P dies he tells L, “The soil of a man’s heart is stonier, Louis. I’ll come to you.” — L is freaked out because P knows his name and there’s no way he should know it. This is important as it’s referenced later with J after burying C. This also shows the link between the two and P does return as a ghost to L. In the book, I think P talks more about PS than in the movie
  11. I liked when P returned to L and L thinks he’s dreaming and P says “Who said you were dreaming?” I thought this was funny and a necessary way to transform L’s thoughts so detailed in the book to the big screen
  12. P has one murky white eye in film as opposed to grey eyes in book. This actually reminded me of my fanfic “Come to Pass” 🙂
  13. I thought because we don’t get as much insight into L’s thoughts that the moment he realizes it wasn’t a dream with P is a little anti-climatic versus how it made me giggle in the book
  14. I liked especially the gradual transition from dream to waking in this scene as well
  15. Upon the journey to the MMBG, L falls [which never happened in the book and maybe was meant to show how treacherous the climb was]
  16. The journey highlights the various climates before reaching the MM
  17. “Loon” noises occur but no talk of Wendigos
  18. The aerial shot of the MM rocks with the eerie music in the background is great
  19. Good passage of time in these scenes as well
  20. When J tells L about the stonier of a man’s heart we see an explicit flashback to P. The connection I think is that the BG also is stonier than other soils and so P knew more than L about the BG, much like J and it’s something L should never have found out about (especially since the BG influences deaths to the Creed family)
  21. L’s actor expresses haunted looks very well
  22. C brings a dead rat to L in the bath– a small glimpse of how Killer C is after resurrecting [probably should have been considered for R & G honestly] which is also evident in how L gives C raw meat before he kills him
  23. The MM influences the kite’s handle to fly away from G. It is hungrier for more deaths. G goes after it and dies. G was (and others too) so happy before the tragedy. Some of the paper plates fly away too
  24. The truck falls over too
  25. The visual of the kite in the sky also drops once G is hit
  26. Fake crying in background for E sounds forced and trite. This is one reason I feel she’s also not the greatest of actresses
  27. When L puts E to bed night of the wake she asks if she can have faith that god can undo G’s death and L responds with, “Yes, I suppose you can.” We automatically know he’s planning to resurrect G.
  28. J knows this and tells L about Timmy. He tells L that T’s father didn’t realize the truth before he buried his son (who also doesn’t look in his early twenties): “Sometimes dead is better
  29. Essentially when resurrected they come back cannibalistic (think zombies)
  30. We skip L getting his supplies and have a scene where P is warning L about crossing the barrier as L arrives at G’s site during the day (and the fence isn’t much of a problem comparatively)
  31. L is giddy/under the BG’s influence when he escapes the sights of the cop as he digs G out at night
  32. L’s holding dead G wasn’t as impactful in film like in the book which was disappointing for me
  33. E has another P dream
  34. E tells R how P is a good ghost sent to warn (missing: but can’t interfere although he kinda does to help R get to L sooner)
  35. P’s ghost appears to help R realize who he is and that his soul discorporated
  36. R dreams of Z and G getting her for letting them die on the plane and P is there sitting too, haha
  37. P interferes a little by holding the plane’s gate door open and talking with the car rental person
  38. P reappears when R’s rental car blows a tire and tells her how it’s the BG stopping her. She looks around and asks if anyone is there. Interesting how the paranormal works in this film. 🙂
  39. KG’s hand and making noises comes out of his rocky grave
  40. P only has a certain range and can’t be super near to the BG [I assume because they have conflicting agendas] and he says how he doubts that everything will be okay
  41. Z & KG get R to go to J’s house (as here J never explicitly told R to meet him at his house and by now he’s already dead)
  42. KG kills J with a scalpel from L’s medical bag–ouch!! Right in the ankle, too! D:
  43. KG appears as Z first to R
  44. L finds out about R from her father’s call and the muddy footprints of KG. The phone rings again and it’s KG saying how he got to play with J and R and wants to play with L too. L yells at him: “What did you do?
  45. R is dead by the way, she gets killed off screen
  46. C helped G kill J by surprise. L kills C to leave no chances for C and G to be in cahoots and probably to destroy all the evidence
  47. When L kills C he yells, “Play dead! Be dead!” He also shows how emotional he is (also later too) before returning to calm, cool and collected. At this point L realizes R is completely dead
  48. KG bites and stabs L three times
  49. I enjoyed the flashes of memories from KG to a happy/alive G. That was nice
  50. You would think L learned his lesson from C & G before putting R into the BG but his delirium is likely because he’s out of his mind and is fixated only on the BG and nothing else. He sees nothing beyond this point. He really did love R
  51. After setting J’s house on fire, L carries R’s body out and says how he waited too long with G and that it will work with R. P warns him not to do it, L doesn’t listen
  52. J’s voice-over comes in about what you own
  53. R returns with a ‘darling’, picks up a knife and kills him off-screen.

Movie ends.


RECOMMENDATION SCORE:

7.5/10

 

 


Okay, this honestly took me about 2.5 hours to type all up. I worked easily 10 hours between watching, re-watching, taking notes, taking more notes, organizing the information, typing the information and everything else. My wrists are hurting, I am insatiably hungry and I’m ready to be done with this review and blog post and just get it up for someone to eventually find and have the interest in them to read and comment on it. 😀

I’ll probably have a few other blog posts (reviews honestly) to come soon.

For now, I’m off.

I need a break ahaha.

Hope you enjoyed it!!

Have you seen PS? What did you think of it? Was the remake good? I want to watch the sequel too and then eventually review the remake. 🙂

Hope you’re all doing well!!!

❤ ❤ ❤

Stay safe.