By Riley Steffens ’22
Note: The following review contains spoilers.
The film begins when a young girl discovers an ominous place out in the woods behind her house labeled ‘Pet Sematary.’ We learn that the young girl is named Ellie and recently moved to Maine with her baby brother Gage, parents Rachel and Louis, and of course, her beloved cat Church (named after Winston Churchill, who Ellie refers to as “a really old guy”). The family lives out in the middle of nowhere with a whole lot of woods behind their house. They only have one neighbor, a cool old guy named Jud. Jud seems to know some secrets about their new home.
Ellie’s mom, Rachel is for some reason scared to tell Ellie about death. Her father Louis is a doctor so he is fine with it, he knows it is a natural part of life. Also, Ellie is nine, so it is confusing as to how she does not know what death is yet.
Anyway, it turns out that Rachel herself is scared of death because her sister Zelda traumatized her when she was little. Zelda had a messed up spine and as a result, had to lay in bed all the time and looked extremely sickly. She apparently resented Rachel but I think Rachel was just making up reasons to be scared of her. Zelda comes back to haunt her later.
Louis also has some problems of his own. As a doctor, he gets to treat an emergency patient who just got hit and dragged by a car. Viewers get a lovely image of his beating brain peeking out of his head. This patient, Victor, will come back to haunt him (literally).
The movie picks up with the death of an animal. Ellie’s cat, Church, is killed on Halloween. Of all days, of course, it is Halloween. Jud tells Louis and says that if they bury the cat in Pet Sematary, it ‘won’t be dead’ anymore. Louis doesn’t find this strange and goes through with it. The next morning, Church is back in the house and acting differently. More… evil than usual. A hint for later.
Ellie is at first delighted to have her cat back but then realizes he’s evil now so the family kicks Church out. Big Mistake.
Next, we see Ellie’s birthday party. She’s a bit down because she misses having a cat, but Louis gifts her a stuffed cat that makes her happy. Louis plays hide and seek with the kids, but when Ellie goes to hide she sees Church standing in the middle of the road. Ellie is obsessed with that cat so of course, she goes to meet him. In the middle of a big highway type road. Right off the side of their house. (Can you see where this is going?) Yeah, Ellie gets hit by an eight-wheeler truck and dies on her birthday.
The family is devastated. They go through the funeral process and Rachel and Gage leave to be with Rachel’s parents. Louis is supposed to join them but needs to take care of some business first. (Again, can you see where this is going?)
Louis exhumes his daughter (read: digs dead Ellie out of her grave) and takes her to Pet Sematary. The whole theater was cringing at this part. Did Louis learn nothing from Evil Church? Evil Ellie is going to be ten times worse.
And she is. In an effort not to spoil everything, just know that Evil Ellie is truly evil with a BIG murderous streak. The movie does end on a happy note though, with the whole family having the potential to be together again…albeit dead and evil.
Overall, I thought Pet Sematary was a decent horror film. It had a good share of buildup scares and jump scares, which is expected from a Stephen King plot. The writing honestly wasn’t too bad and while the pace did seem a bit slow at times, everything worked out in the end. The acting was on par as well, especially the cat. It is a fun movie to see with friends, and more fun if your friends get scared easily. It is definitely not the stuff of nightmares, though. Go for a good scare that won’t follow you home. As always, Stephen King entertains and excites.