Pet Sematary (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Screenplay by||Jeff Buhler|
|Story by||Matt Greenberg|
|Based on||Pet Sematary|
by Stephen King
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Edited by||Sarah Broshar|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$109.8 million|
Pet Sematary is a 2019 American supernatural horror film directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer and written by Jeff Buhler, from a screen story by Matt Greenberg. It is the second adaptation of the 1983 novel of the same name by Stephen King, after the 1989 film. The film stars Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow, and follows a family that discovers a mysterious graveyard in the woods behind their new home.
Talks for a new adaptation of Pet Sematary began in March 2010, with Greenberg initially writing the screenplay. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Steven Schneider were revealed to be producing the remake with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo in talks to direct it. By December 2017, Paramount Pictures had greenlit the new version of King's novel, with duo filmmakers Kölsch and Widmyer directing. Principal photography commenced on June 18, 2018, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and wrapped on August 11, 2018.
The film premiered at South by Southwest festival on March 16, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on April 5, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the dark tone, atmosphere and performances, but disliked the slow pacing and reliance on jump scares. Critics and audiences were both divided on the changes between the film and book, though many named it better than the 1989 adaptation, calling it one of the best Stephen King adaptations.
Louis Creed, a doctor from Boston, Massachusetts moves to the small town of Ludlow, Maine with his wife Rachel, their two young children, Ellie and Gage, and Ellie's cat, Winston Churchill, called "Church", for short. While exploring the woods surrounding their new home, Ellie stumbles across a funeral procession of children wearing animal masks taking a deceased dog to a cemetery, noting a sign reading "Pet Sematary." Jud Crandall, their neighbor, warns Ellie and Rachel that the woods are dangerous and not to venture out alone.
At the university hospital, Louis is left shaken after failing to save the life of Victor Pascow, a student who has been fatally injured after being struck by a vehicle. On the night following Pascow's death, Louis experiences a vivid dream in which he meets Pascow, who leads him to the back of the cemetery and warns Louis not to "venture beyond" and that “the ground is sour”. A disturbed Louis awakens to find his feet and bed sheets caked in mud, suggesting that the evening's previous events were more than just a nightmare.
On Halloween, Church is killed by a truck. Jud takes Louis to the Pet Sematary, supposedly to bury Church, however he leads Louis farther to an ancient burial ground. The next day, Louis is stunned when Church returns home alive, although he is notably more aggressive, scratching Ellie and violently ripping open a bird. Louis confronts Jud who tells him that the burial ground behind the Pet Sematary is able to bring things back from the dead and is believed to be inhabited by a spirit known as the Wendigo. After Church attacks Gage, Louis attempts to euthanize him, however he decides against killing the cat and instead releases him at the gate of an area with restricted access, before telling Ellie that he ran away.
The family throws a birthday party for Ellie. During the party, Ellie spots Church in the road and rushes to him; her brother follows. Before a large tanker truck can hit him, he is saved by his father. The trucker then wrecks his truck whilst trying not to hit Ellie. The tank trailer separates from the tractor truck and then hits and kills her. The family is devastated, and Rachel and Gage leave to spend a few days with Rachel's parents. Jud, sensing that Louis is planning on resurrecting Ellie, warns the grieving father that "sometimes dead is better". However, despite the warnings from Jud and Pascow's spirit, and his own reservations about the idea, Louis's grief and guilt spur him to carry out his plan. After drugging Jud, Louis exhumes Ellie's body from her grave and inters her in the burial ground watched by the Wendigo who lets him bury Ellie. Ellie returns from the dead, however she immediately manifests a disturbing and ornery demeanor.
At her parents' house, Rachel is spooked by visions of her dead sister Zelda, who suffered from spinal meningitis, and died after falling down a dumbwaiter shaft, leaving Rachel traumatized since she was young. Gage also sees the ghost of Pascow; meanwhile, Jud wakes up and confronts Louis. Insisting everything is fine, Louis sends Jud away; however, Jud spots Ellie watching him from her bedroom window. Horrified, Jud flees to his house and retrieves a pistol to kill Ellie. As he is looking for her, Jud is distracted by a growling Church, and Ellie slices through Jud's Achilles tendon with a scalpel. Ellie briefly takes the form of Jud's dead wife Norma, suggesting he had buried her in the Sematary, before stabbing him to death (as Church looks on).
Rachel and Gage return to the house and Ellie reintroduces herself. Unable to believe that her daughter has returned from the dead, a traumatized Rachel flees upstairs with Gage. Rachel is stabbed in the stomach by Ellie but manages to escape to the bathroom with Gage, barricading herself in. Louis finds Jud's body (along with Church whose eyes glow with eerie light) and returns to the house where Rachel is trying to lower Gage out the bathroom window. Louis catches Gage as Rachel is stabbed in the spine by Ellie. Louis locks Gage in the car and returns upstairs to find a dying Rachel who begs Louis not to resurrect her.
Ellie knocks Louis unconscious and drags Rachel’s body into the woods where she buries her beyond the Pet Sematary. As Louis prepares to kill Ellie in the forest, he is impaled through the chest with a weather vane by a resurrected Rachel, and he too is buried. Along with Church, the trio set fire to Jud's house before approaching the car where Gage still sits inside. The resurrected Louis gestures to Gage to unlock the door.
- Jason Clarke as Dr. Louis Creed
- Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed (née Goldman)
- Sonia Maria Chirila as Young Rachel
- John Lithgow as Jud Crandall
- Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed
- Hugo & Lucas Lavoie as Gage Creed
- Obssa Ahmed as Victor Pascow
- Alyssa Brooke Levine as Zelda Goldman
- Suzy Stingl as Norma Crandall
- Maria Herrera as Marcela
- Jacob Lemieux as "Mouse Face"
- Maverick Fortin as "Dog Face"
- Lou Ferrando as "Rabbit Face"
- Najya Muipatayi as "Cat Face"
- Emma Hill as "Horse Face"
- Leo, Tonic, Jager and JD as Church the Cat
On March 5, 2010, it was announced that Paramount Pictures was developing a new adaptation of Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary, and that Matt Greenberg had been hired to write the screenplay. He later only received "screen story" credit. On October 31, 2013, it was reported that Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Steven Schneider would serve as producers for the production, and that Juan Carlos Fresnadillo was in talks to direct.
On October 30, 2017, it was announced that Paramount Pictures had officially greenlit the film, which was expected to be directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, from a screenplay by Jeff Buhler and David Kajganich (the latter went uncredited). Aside from Di Bonaventura and Schneider, Mark Vahradian also produced.
On April 16, 2018, it was announced that Jason Clarke had been cast in the lead role of Louis Creed. On May 4, 2018, it was reported John Lithgow had joined the cast in the role of Jud Crandall.
In June 2018, it was announced that Amy Seimetz would have the film's lead female role, Rachel Creed, along with Jeté Laurence as Creed's daughter Ellie and twins Hugo and Lucas Lavoie as Creed's son Gage.
In October 2018, it was reported that Obssa Ahmed had been added as college student Victor Pascow, and Alyssa Brooke Levine as Zelda Goldman. Zelda was previously portrayed by stuntman Andrew Hubatsek, in the 1989 film.
The film was originally slated to be released on April 19, 2019, but was moved forward to April 5, 2019. On October 10, 2018, the film's first trailer was released, followed by a 3D photo posted November 1, 2018, through Facebook's 3D photo function. The film had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 16, 2019.
As of May 18, 2019[update], Pet Sematary has grossed $54.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $55.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $109.8 million, against a production budget of $21 million.
In the United States and Canada, Pet Sematary was released alongside Shazam! and The Best of Enemies, and was projected to gross $20–30 million from 2,500 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $2.3 million from Thursday night previews. It then grossed $10 million on its first day, including previews. It went on to debut to $25 million, finishing second, behind Shazam!. The film fell 59% in its second weekend to $10 million, finishing fourth, and then made $4.9 million in its third weekend, finishing seventh.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 57% based on 239 reviews, with an average rating of 5.95/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Pet Sematary takes its source material in a few different directions, but this remake feels like an exhuming almost as often as it does a revival." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 66% and a 47% "definite recommend".
In March 2019, producer Di Bonaventura stated that a prequel to the film is possible if the film is a success financially, saying,
"I generally don't start thinking about [sequels] until they're a success. I think if there's anything here, there's a prequel. I think if you look at the book, we didn't cover all that stuff that happens before the Creed family moves in. So, I think there's a movie there, and I think I'd be particularly interested in doing that, because, again, it's the source material and you are going toward something that also has a lot of crazy, creepy feelings about it."
In April 2019, directors Kölsch and Widmyer ruled themselves out of returning, saying,
"If you were going to be more, you'd probably do backstory stuff. [...] I'd be really interested to see how somebody would do a sequel to this movie. It probably won't be us."
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