Pet Sematary (1989)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Pet Sematary</strong> (1989)

(On TV, May 2018) There’s something almost charming in quasi-classic Stephen King adaptation Pet Sematary. The way it doesn’t mess around in creating an atmosphere of overblown fear and suspense. The almost uncaring way the film uses familiar horror tropes. The abundance of straight-up “this is a bad idea!” reactions from the audience. The ultra-pitch-black ending. The novel is one of King’s bleakest and the film makes no effort at trying to be something else. The actors are almost forgettable (although Fred Gwynne plays his elder-advisor role with the false gravitas that the part requires) and the direction isn’t particularly polished. But then again, lack of polish is the point of this film—criticizing the characters’ incredibly dumb actions in the film is tempting but useless as we’re here for the thrills and chills. At least Pet Sematary know what it’s about and whatever artful moments it has (most notably in depicting the entirely predictable death of a child upon which the film pivots) are in the service of later shlock. As a result, it’s easy to dismiss Pet Sematary … but there’s not use denying that it works at what it sets out to do, and perhaps even more so today as a late-eighties horror movie now that the genre has evolved (well, in its best examples) toward a more artful and meaningful presentation.

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