Pet Sematary (2019)

This second adaptation of Stephen King’s grisly novel is slicker than the 1989 original, but its emotional impact is dulled by directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s refusal to “go there” with the novel’s themes. After all, the novel is a heavy read: It deals head-on with grief (both acute and unresolved) and fear of death, and its exploration of the traumatic impact of losing a loved one is tremendously layered. However it seems as though those themes were deliberately diluted in order to make the narrative more digestible for a mainstream audience. Mind you, the novel’s plot survives almost beat-for-beat (with a few changes here and there), but the cinematic approach here is to heighten the on-screen horror while dampening the psychological horror, and the finished result relies entirely on the strengths of the supernatural elements. Unfortunately not much of it is particularly interesting, and the changes made to the narrative seem to have been done for their own sake: They don’t add much, and the movie runs out of steam at about the halfway point on the way to an underwhelming, under-directed climax that never comes alive. It’s a disappointment all around, with is compounded by the potential of the novel versus the cinematic treatment it receives here.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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