Thoughts on Pet Semetary (2019)

“Sometimes, not remade is better.”

Pet Semetary is an okay movie. A few moments in the film almost make it great. But in a time of amazing Stephen King adaptations, just okay isn’t going to cut it. I’ll be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve read the book. Even longer still, the last time I watched the original movie, it was on VHS. Back then, Stephen King was getting adapted left and right. Most of the movies where, okay, with a few stand outs, like Kubrick’s The Shining, (Even though Stephen King notoriously hates that movie.) There just wasn’t as many comparisons, or ability to really translate King’s work onto the big screen. Now, with filmmakers being more daring than ever, we have more fully realized versions of King’s work. The most recent It part 1 comes to mind as an amazing adaptation.  Now that leads us back to Pet Semetary. The plot is pretty much the same as it was back then with ONE big change. Spoiler alert, skip this next part if you want to go in blind:

In the original, the little boy gets hit by a truck. In this remake, it’s the little girl. Now as a Father of two little girls, I found this very effective and creepy. There is a scene when the dad is coming her hair in the bathtub, and he can sense she is not right, the whole scene was so well acted it gave me chills. Even the little girl toying with her dad, trying to get him to say that she was dead before he brought her back worked wonders. 

End of spoilers: The film works most of the time. The setting and music are eerie and creepy and the sound design is top notch. The pacing also is pretty good as it gives a good amount of jump scares as well as building up a nice story dealing with science against religion. The dad is a doctor who doesn’t believe in Heaven, which sets him up nicely to have the rug pulled out from under him when the dead come back. The biggest issue for me with the film was the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I will say it landed with a thud. The climax of the film is intense and fast paced. There is a real sense of danger as it’s building towards its conclusion, and then it just ends. It doesn’t resolve anything or really explain what is going to happen. It just leaves the audience to decide what they think will happen. Some films this works wonders, such as Jordan Peele’s break out hit US. However, this film is not avaunt garde cinema. Not even close, and in that I wanted more of a resolution from the ending. I have heard there is an alternate ending, (which always makes me feel like they didn’t know how to end the movie) on the special features. I have heard it’s much better. Either-way, it doesn’t matter though, because it’s not the ending they went with. 
Overall, you could do much worse than this film, but with horror getting so many great to amazing films released each year, do you want to waste a view on just okay? I’d say hold on to your money, rent to the original, and get ready for It pt 2. If you are still set on seeing this movie, at least rent it for cheap. Final word on it, check out the director’s other film Starry Eyes. It’s much better and I wonder how much of this film not working was studio over vision.

Thoughts on Into the Darkness:School Spirit

School Spirit the latest film in the partnership between Blumhouse and Hulu is pretty good. The trappings of it are familiar, and the kills never really excite or get inventive. Basically, if you are a fan of horror, you have seen this one done before, maybe even better, somewhere else. However, what this film does do well is applying a deconstructive lens to some issues that are prevalent in our society right now. That’s not to say the film is a genius piece of cinema, but as far as horror films go, this one is worth a watch. The set up is a group of kids are at the school for Saturday detention. Soon, it becomes clear that they are not alone as they are getting picked off one by one by the school’s resident ghost. The ghost effects and overall costume design for the specter are pretty good. Even though the film takes place during the day, the ghost is usually obscured in shadows which helps elevate the great makeup job that they did. 

The group of characters are pretty standard for this kind of fair. They all seem taken out of any teen slasher flick. However, one thing this film does do to its credit, with varying success is to give them all a tragic reason for them to be in detention. The one that stuck out to me the most was Lizzy, who we find out gets detention to avoid being home with her alcoholic mother. She comments frequently on not being able to avoid drunks, and how she wishes for her peers to not drink around her. Another stand out was Erica, the girl who is a straight-A student and its a mystery why she is even in detention, to begin with. The full cast plays pretty well with the only occasionally amateur hiccup. 

Overall, the film does throw some good surprises in its third act that I didn’t see coming. However, mileage will vary with this film depending on what you’re looking for. It has the feel of a made for TV movie Halloween special. The film is not remarkable, but it’s a far cry from bad. With a run time a little under an hour and a half it’s a quick and easy watch. I liked this film enough to want to check out the other films that Hulu and Blumhouse have worked on together.

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