It seems like Stephen King is seeing a Cinematic Resurgence. The new It film was a hit with a highly anticipated sequel on the way this year. Also coming this year is In the Tall Grass, while there are announced adaptions of Firestarter and the Tommy Knockers.
And so here we have a an updated adaption of the novel. The original film is a classic exploration of parental grief and the horrors that follow.
The new film begins much like the book and film. The Creed family arrives to their new home, they meet Jud when daughter Ellie discovers the Pet Sematary. There are some early differences, the story introduces a ritual of children wearing masks when they go to bury their pets…this seemed mainly to introduce a creepy mask for later.
If you have seen the last trailer they released you know the new film diverges…wildly…from the book and the previous film. For those who have not seen it, I will not say a word.
I like that they focused on a friendship between Ellie and Jud. His attachment causes him to make the choice to show Luis the ancient grounds. Although, this change in direction hurts the relationship between Luis and Jud in the story. It is less fulfilling.
The film also does not retain certain important plot points. Jud never tells the story of anyone who returned. Sure, there is his dog, but he never reveals any big tragedy that tells of the power to resurrect more than pets.
On the other hand, I do appreciate that they played up the Wendigo myth in this version.
The performances are good, and my biggest concern was, thankfully, perfectly good. Fred Gwynne was iconic in the role. I am a fan of Lithgow, and he does not try and repeat the Gwynne take.
The final act is much more gruesome, and almost unrecognizable to fans of the 1989 film and it also rushes to the finish line. I did like the film generally. There are some interesting changes, but there are also some things that should have been explored better, such as grief and the dark temptations of the sour lands. And some of the changes work nicely, but they could have made the film a bit longer and explored more.