Thoughts on “Pet Sematary”

So, now I return to that four pack of Stephen King movies that I put off talking about until I got through the “Carrie” movies with “Pet Sematary”.

The plot is that a family moves to a somewhat rural house beside a busy highway that a lot of transport trucks drive rather quickly down, and because of that their neighbour — Herman Munster, as it turns out — shows them the local “Pet Sematary” just down the path from their house, where the pets and even strays that were killed on that highway are buried.  Soon after, while everyone except the husband is away their cat gets outside at night and is killed, and so the neighbour talks to him about another burial ground far deeper into the woods that doesn’t just bury animals, but also revives them.  The husband makes the trip and revives the cat, but the cat acts a lot meaner and smells badly and so something isn’t quite right with it.  At any rate, eventually the young toddler gets away from the family and gets hit by a truck, which devastates the family.  When the family is away, and despite being warned that he should never try it, the husband tries to bring the child back from the dead and succeeds … but the child is a horribly evil and murderous creature — and is hinted at being possessed — and starts to kill everyone.  Spurred on by a ghost that appeared earlier in the movie, the wife comes back to try to help but is rather unceremoniously killed off by the child.  The husband kills the child, and then comes to believe that the issue was that the child was dead for too long and so takes his recently deceased wife to the same place to revive her, at which point she also returns and kills him, at which point the movie ends.

There isn’t that much plot in the movie, and so it feels like it’s stretched out a bit.  However, for all of that there isn’t really enough exposition to explain what is going on or how it all works.  The husband, for example, seems totally convinced about his conclusions about the other cemetery that revives people, including that time matters, but in-movie we aren’t given any reason to think that he would know any of that or would come to that conclusion, especially in the case of his wife.  That being said, we can forgive the movie for that last one, at least, because he’s clearly emotionally distraught and it’s reasonable to think that he’d be grasping at straws and trying to rationalize his move, so it doesn’t really have to make sense.

The wife’s subplot, however, cannot be so easily forgiven.  Since she’s guided back home by a supernatural entity that claims to be trying to help and works to get her there at that time, that she’s killed off so perfunctorily doesn’t work.  What we’d expect to happen is that either she’d return, try to help, but ultimately fail — the spirit actually says that it could only get her there and that she might not succeed but it needed her to take the chance — or else to reveal that the spirit was actually trying to deceive her and only wanted to get her back there to die.  As it stands, she comes back to die so that she can be revived and kill the husband, which would be a bad enough move on its own but is even worse when such a big deal is made out of the possibility that she could stop everything and essentially stop a great evil.  With such a set-up, the movie really doesn’t deliver on that at all.

Beyond that, though, there isn’t much to say about the movie, which might be the thing that most damns it.  It’s not particularly interesting and doesn’t have a really interesting plot, and as I noted seems to be trying to stretch the plot it does have to fit into a movie-length feature.  Given that, I don’t hate it and maybe could watch it again, but don’t think I’ll be watching it again any time soon.

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