Since the end of a millennium and the beginning of a new one, horror has slowly changed into a shadow of what it once was. Plots and character development were tossed in the trash and replaced with gore, green screens, and CGI’s. Every once in a while we stumble across a film that does it right, but those are so few and far between now. Just like a post-apocalyptic world in which everything we love is gone and forgotten, we now only have the memories of what great horror films were.
When I watched Stephen King’s Pet Sematary I was reminded of what horror was. It isn’t flashy, but rather straight to the point and laced with developing plots and character progression. The beginning may start off slow, but the ending is a rollercoaster that makes you feel like a kid again. The themes of family and love are prevalent and make us feel a connection with the dark nature of our faith and what we hold dear. Ultimately, Pet Sematary has aged well because everything around us is nothing compared to what once was.
The film begins with the Creed family moving from Chicago to Maine. The father, Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff), is working as a doctor at the local university while the mother (Denise Crosby) and two children (Miko Hughes and Blaze Berdahl) are putzing around the house. A mysterious, but kind neighbor by the name of Jud (Fred Gwynne) befriends the family and teaches them about a local pet sematary that has a storied history. Louis also learns from Jud that there is a special burial ground that can bring the dead back to life. After traumatic events occur, people begin coming back to life with tragic results.
As stated before, the film begins very slow and almost has a made for television feel to it. The new generation of horror fans may feel underwhelmed by the first hour and may even want to shut the movie off, but I beg you to hang in there. While the beginning is a little boring, the ending is phenomenal. The movie plays out like a tragic Greek play with the main characters slowly waltzing to a doomed fate. The intelligence of the characters can come into question at times, but due to heartache and grief, it is hard to blame people for their decisions. The scares are based on family and love, which are two things that humanity cares about greatly. You will find yourself very involved in this film, which is a nice change from the detachment we usually find in new horror.
Pet Sematary isn’t perfect, but as horror becomes worse and worse I believe the classics appear better and better. The ending may be great, but the pacing could be an issue to some. The acting is good, but not phenomenal and there may be moments of unintentional comedy. All of these issues are made up for thanks to heartfelt themes and a great ending. Furthermore, it is nice to see a zombie movie based on love, rather than survival. The scares are sinister and disturbing, thanks to the final villain. This movie may stick with some for a long time, especially if you find crazy children a little creepy.
If you are a fan of true horror, whatever that may mean, then this movie is one that you should watch. Horror i sland is receiving a true zombie; a film that we thought died, but has risen to the top and is hoping to strike our hearts once again. For that, we should thank it.
If you liked Pet Sematary, you might also like Night of the Living Dead and Child's Play.