Pet Semetary

Is spring now horror movie season? After the brilliantly layered Us only a couple of weeks ago, it appears our current commitment to seeing 100 films at the cinema this year is leading us down the otherwise avoided path: scary films.

Daisy and I decided the best way to do Pet Semetary and not get properly freaked out was to go at the same time in our separate cities, so that we could immediately discuss afterwards and sort of dissipate any demons that might have inadvertently attached themselves to us during the viewing. Makes sense, no?

Pet Semetary is the latest Stephen King adaption, and weirdly one of the only SK books that I can’t remember reading. I even had to go rummage in the garage of my parent’s house last month, scanning the covers of all my Dad’s hardback copies to confirm that nope: not there. A weird glitch in an otherwise robust collection.

The film tells the story of a family who’ve recently moved to a quiet house on the outskirts of a forest with only one neighbour. They quickly notice there appears to be a ‘Pet Semetary’ in their back garden, where creepy AF local kids come and bury their dead pets. Hence the spelling.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG HERE?

So as I’m sitting outside my screening at Hackney Picturehouse, recovering from an after work trip to McDonalds, I was feeling pretty confident to say the least. Maybe that was because going to McDonalds in Hackney at 5pm was so fucking traumatising that I felt like I had already been to a horror film, but that’s my own fault I guess.

texts from daisy
Famous last words

Oh I was so wrong.

Good Stuff

So I thought Us was scary, which now seems very childish compared to how I felt during the second half of this film. On the way home I saw several cats and a metal gate clanging shut and many dark alleys and the wind was making a OOOOoooOOOO noise and I basically locked all the doors and windows and did not feel very happy AT ALL.

I’m putting that under ‘Good Stuff’ because surely the minimum requirement of a horror film is that you can’t sleep for at least the next night?

Basically, all the Good Stuff here is in the second half of the film. That’s when everyone seems to turn up their acting, the pacing gets way better and the scares become much more unpredictable. John Lithgow as the well-meaning neighbour is effortlessly engaging – I would’ve liked even more of him.

Bad Stuff

THE ENTIRE FILM IS IN THE TRAILER. So nothing that happens will be of any surprise to you at all. I know it’s a book and a remake, but still.

The first half of the film I was really not feeling it. There were loads of really obvious jump scares of trucks zooming past, and the pacing/editing felt way too quick and yet somehow pretty boring. There was a lot of plot explaining and sub stories that felt unnecessary to the telling of the film, but which I’m sure are so good in the book.

That’s always the problem with any Stephen King adaption: the heavy detailing and layering of the books (IMO what makes them so good) gets totally trimmed down and lost when brought to screen.

The little girl, the centre of the film, was also pretty irritating and I couldn’t decide whether I thought her acting was decent or not. Much like everyone else in the film, in the scarier half she was much better – maybe it’s easier to do horror acting?

Some of the scenes in the forest look SO low budget, like they filmed it with a green screen, some paper mache and a smoke machine. I found it distractingly bad and even more confusingly I’ve just checked on IMDB and this film had an (estimated) $20,000,000 budget. Lord knows what that was spent on: probs getting the cat to lick his lips comically after one of the first deaths.

Conclusion

Save yourself the trauma and just watch the trailer for free.

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