Blu-ray Review: PET SEMATARY

Release Date: Oct 2nd, 2012
Paramount Home Entertainment

Pet Sematary was originally released in 1989, based on the novel by Stephen King, and has been recently re-released on blu-ray. This classic horror film follows the Creed family as they relocate to a rural house near a pet cemetery whose resurrecting possibilities prove too tempting for father Louis (Dale Midkiff) to avoid after a series of tragedies. The plot will be familiar to many horror fans both from those familiar with King’s tale or other films that have rehashed the Indian burial ground story. It may not be the best of the prolific writer’s stories nor the best film adaptation, but it’s still a staple in the horror genre.

The film fails in its attempt to be poignant as it is thwarted by how hard it tries. The daughter’s intense, deep questions about life border on being unrealistic, serving only to allow the father to show his own views on life and set up the thematic elements dealing with family values, grief, love, and religion. The story fares better when focusing on Louis’s desperate attempts to ease hides family’s suffering, both his daughter’s exposure to the hard truths of growing up and his wife, Rachel’s (Denise Crosby), childhood trauma–she watched her sister die in front of her, which is one of the creepiest scenes in the film. These moments set up the film while revealing the altruistic character traits that ultimately lead to Louis’s downfall. The tale of Rachel as a child dealing with a sister on the verge of death is wholly unsettling and creepy. Pascow (Brad Greenquist), the ghost that continually warns the husband the daughter through her dreams, isn’t integrated into the otherwise downplayed supernatural element of the first half of the story, but the character’s dialogue is a welcome relief from the most serious tone.

The last third of the film ventures takes a dramatic turn after the father makes use of the pet cemetery to revive a human being. The pacing abruptly changes which makes the shift seem jarring and the end rushed. While the film could be both horrifying and pack a strong psychological punch, it lacks the subtlety that would make it more effective and the majority of the deaths are more unnerving for the victims than the overall meaning in the tale. To say Pet Sematary reaches the emotional resonance for which it seems to strive might be pushing the boundaries, but it is unsettling and entertaining enough to warrant watching this classic all these years later.

Kristen Micek