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Film review: Pet Sematary is a King-sized letdown, says Rashid Irani

This film squanders the spooky premise of Stephen King’s tale, relying instead on cheap scare tactics and a shrill soundtrack.

movie reviews Updated: Apr 12, 2019 15:56 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
Stephen King,Kevin Kolsch,Dennis Widmyer
The characterisation is, without exception, one-dimensional; the performances, mediocre.
  • Direction: Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer
  • Actors: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz
  • Rating: 1.5 / 5

Cinematic adaptations of the work of Stephen King have been a sort of Hollywood cottage industry ever since the 1976 smash hit chiller, Carrie.

Based on one of his most terrifying tales, Pet Sematary the film unfortunately squanders King’s spooky premise on derivative genre conventions such as cheap scare tactics, mind-numbing contrivances and an eardrum-splitting soundtrack.

The opening segment feels particularly strained. A young couple (Amy Seimetz-Jason Clarke) and their two children relocate from Boston to rural Maine. The family has barely unpacked their belongings when an unsettling series of events begins to unfold.

The laboured storyline factors in a pet cemetery (misspelt at the site); a second, more sinister burial ground for Native Indian tribes; and an elderly know-it-all neighbour (John Lithgow). Tragedy strikes repeatedly, leading to an over-the-top, gore-spattered finale.

Themes of mortality, grief and the dangers of tinkering with the laws of nature are addressed perfunctorily. The characterisation is, without exception, one-dimensional; the performances, mediocre.

You’d be far better off revisiting the 1989 version, scripted by the author himself, which has attained cult status. This update is a letdown for all King fans.

First Published: Apr 12, 2019 15:56 IST