Pet Semetary (2019) Review

So there I was, gripping the edge of my seat watching in horror as a slow moving nightmare began to reach it’s inevitable nailbiting climax of terror after a slow buildup and just before the final act reached its crescendo and I began to believe that I would make it to the end credits with a few fingernails intact when….

A bunch of naked climate change protesters glued themselves to the House of Common’s glass-walled public gallery and then didn’t quite seem to know what to do with themselves. At which point I decided to stop watching the Brexit negotiations and go the cinema and watch an actual horror movie instead.

Because sleep is over-rated.

And just by luck, I had tickets to an advanced screening of Pet Semetary! From the pen of horror maestro Stephen King. Wait…. it’s not seriously called Semetary with an S is it? Oh that’s great. Now this review is going to be full of red wiggly lines.

Bu back to dead pet place and we find Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocating from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children to have a slower pace of life. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home and things go from bad to worse very, very quickly.

Now, the producers have expressed regret over the second trailer which apparently spoils the whole film but since I avoid trailers (especially horror trailers) like the plague I wouldn’t know.

But, I wouldn’t have thought there was much to spoil after the first thirty seconds which needs to go. Instantly, immediately, without hesitation or reservation it has to go. But leaving that aside, this is a pretty threadbare film. I mean it’s the kind of plot that only functions if everyone wasn’t either an idiot or incapable of holding an actual conversation with someone else. I’ve seen more dialogue in films staring Ryan Gosling!

Seriously, an actual conversation at any point in the first two thirds of this film would have stopped this. Which, isn’t a good thing, even for horror. A genre which traditionally relies on people making stupid decisions (a trope which was utterly destroyed by the amazing Cabin in the Woods) which, with a few tweaks this could almost be a prequel to.

Because yes, in the cinema I was scared and became very fascinated with my watch which is normally a good thing but at about the halfway point I twigged that this film only has about three scares which it repeats ad nauseum to the law of diminishing returns. Certain ‘creepy’ sets looked pretty cheap and very set-like which didn’t help. And I give certain props to the film for not having it’s finale become inadvertently hilarious but it was clear that the film had passed it’s peak and was heading downhill.

Also, for a film which the BBFC claims has “strong bloody violence, gore, threat” it seems pretty tame. Almost as if the film was intended to be a hard 12a and was cut down in anticipation of that certificate. What gore there is, is cut away from pretty quickly when it could have been allowed to go a little further to truly earn it’s certificate.

It’s made a few changes from the book, all of which are to the films benefit but it still feels pretty thin. Non of the characters really get any development making it hard to care about any of them when their in danger. More and more I realize that this film fell back on familiar horror tropes. Creepy looking kids? Check. Loud noises at night? Check. Events set during Halloween? Check. I’m not fully convinced that this wasn’t supposed to be some sort of black comedy with horror elements were it not for the fact that i’m certain the laughs that rippled through my screening weren’t always supposed to be there.

Treat Pet Memorial Place as a schlocky horror film. It’s got nothing to say about life, and the universe and ten minutes off the run-time (especially in a slowish moving first half) would have been only to the films benefit  but I went in, was scared then left and wasn’t anymore.

In other words,

My Score- If Nothing Else 

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