The most recent Stephen King adaptation, and remake of the 1989 film, comes home on DVD and blu-ray today from Paramount Pictures.
Featuring some pretty significant departures from the source material, but arguably faithful to it at the same time, this variation of the classic monkey’s paw tale is a fairly solid tale, while not always being as clear on character motivation as the book and the previous incarnation.
This time around, Jason Clarke plays Louis, the man who moves his family to Ludlow, where they want a new start as a family, He is joined by wife, Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter, Ellie (Jete Laurence), son, Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) and the family cat, Chiurch.
Under the watchful eye of their neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) the family is plunged into every parent’s nightmare with first the death if a family pet, and then a child. But Jud shows Louis an ancient burial ground, where despite the fact that sometimes dead is better, the dead can return to life.
But, they come back changed.
Stpehen King novels have always been a challenge to adapt and consequently end up as hit or miss films, mini-series or television shows, but I feel this one is fairly on the mark, and it is dark and depressing, not nearly so much so as the novel, but there is a darkness that is prevalent through all of it, which lends the film a grittier edge than its cinematic predecessor and sequel.
The changes that have been made to the main plot of the film do it credit, and there are some nice choices, though Louis doesn’t have the strength he shows in the novel, and not enough attention seems to be paid to the Victor Pascow (Obssa Almed) or Rachel’s parents and their disapproval of Louis. The stuff with Rachel’s sister, Zelda (Alyssa Levine) works really nicely, and is line with the novel, though I have some issues with how it plays out – if she’s been haunted by this all of her life, why is it suddenly so prevalent now? Proximity to the Sematary? That’s neither touched on nor explained.
And while it lacks the gut-wrenching heartache and complete darkness of the novel, I feel this version of Pet Sematary definitely shares its spirit. I enjoyed watching this, though I felt it could have been filled out to a solid two hour runtime and give us more of the novel’s characterizations and moments.
Still, it’s a slimmed down to the essentials version of the story, which works nicely, and could serve as a gateway to the novel (and others) if you haven’t (re) read it.
The extras include an alternate (slightly more horrific) ending, a collection of deleted scenes and extended scenes, and sequences that were excised from the story (but wouldn’t those be deleted scenes as well?) among them is the infamous Timmy Baterman story that takes up portion of the original novel.
The picture and sound work nicely, though I wish there had been a touch more in terms of extras. Overall, I quite enjoyed this adaptation of one of King’s darker pieces. Check it out on DVD and Blu-Ray today from Paramount Canada.