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Pet Sematary

30 years after the original 1989 film version, Stephen King's PET SEMATARY is back on the big screen, darker and more lethal than ever.

For fans of the book, get ready for changes, some more effective than others.

Jason Clarke, still brandishing his Boston accent from "Chappaquiddick" plays Dr. Louis Creed, moving with his wife Rachel and two children to the quieter rural life in Ludlow.

Their daughter Elle (Jete Lawrence from "The Americans") is about to turn 9 and little brother Cage is barely out of toddler territory.

Their new rural farm comes with 50 acres loaded with unadvertised extras. Unfortunately those include a two lane highway at the end of the driveway with oil tankers barreling by at 65 MPH and of course the pet cemetery in the woods.

But it's what lies beyond the pet cemetery that causes the most concern.

John Lithgow is reliably terrific as their new next door neighbor, a widower named Jud.

Jud is King's reliable character within the horror story that unveils the unnatural power of what's in those woods and Lithgow nails it.

When the family cat is run over in the road, Jed and Creed bury the tender animal beyond the pet semetary and the animal comes back home that night, but not quite the purring, friendly family cat they're used to.

I have to give everyone credit for the entire "Church burying scene", it's probably the best cemetery set sequence since Gregory Peck and David Warner wandered around that Rome cemetery in "The Omen".

When another tragic death hits the family, the lure of the "sour ground's" powers proves more than some family members can handle and bad choices begit terror.

Clarke is very good, as is Amy Seimetz (Alien Covenant) as Rachel.

Directors Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer, along with writer Jeff Buhler (The Grudge) take King's very dark material and take it even darker places, sometimes astonishingly so.

Composer Christopher Young (Swordfish) delivers a great genre score, well edited into the many jump scares.

Like most King novels, the horror story has may currents running underneath, including death, grief, guilt and desire, stirred into a jet black mix.

I know the story well, but while the '89 film had its scary moments, this updated version is FAR darker and more graphic.

I missed some of the subtext of the book, which seems to have been the magic of last year's adaption of the first half of IT, where those filmmakers captured not only the scares, but the humanity of the characters.

PET SEMETARY glides up against some of those moments, but the new ending went a bit too far for me. I didn't hate it, it was interesting, but the horror elements eventually outweigh any semblance of reality or human nature.

King fans should watch closely for a freeway sign and a sign in town that reference his other works.

There's certainly no doubt that by the final frames, they have proven that the subject line on the poster and Lithgow's best line in the movie is absolutely true. "Sometimes...dead is better".


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