Pet Sematary

* *

The new version of one of Stephen King’s very best – and scariest – books, Pet Sematary, loses half a star for being redundant, and another half for muddying the waters. Simply put, Mary Lambert’s 1989 version of the story is an excellent film, one of the very best King adaptations; adoringly faithful to the events of the novel, it pulls off the much harder trick of capturing the creepy, freaky, icky feel of King’s weird tale of a cemetery that brings dead animals back to life. It feels bold and subversive and strange, and the performances are note perfect, in that they’re eerie and off-putting. By contrast, the new version feels schmick, professional, and soul-less. Jason Clarke, John Lithgow and (particularly) Amy Seimetz give authentic performances, especially in their scenes of grief, but that authenticity is part of the problem. The actors in Lambert’s film weren’t playing it “for real”, they were playing it as King wrote them, which was really screwed up. Whereas Lambert’s film felt dirty (and arty), this one feels polished and clean: a commercial product, which it is, and an unnecessary one.