Pet Sematary remake may be the funniest film of 2019—no, that’s not a typo

, after all, remains one of the most universally reviled King properties to come out of the author’s booze-and-coke ’80s period, which wasn’t helped by a garbage 1989 film adaptation. The best I can say about the new film is that it really swims a few laps in that boozy, drug-filled pool and relishes its garbage origins.

The result, however, is far more comedic than any trailer would indicate.

“They spelled it wrong!”

Let’s review: family moves to the woods to “get away from it all.” Family is initially stoked about the massive backyard in their new property, only to learn  that it’s linked to a few really troubling stories about murders and animals, uh, coming back to life. The property also has a very short driveway that leads to a two-lane, 60mph highway with no gate.

Plus, 30 minutes in, we learn that the stay-at-home mom in this family has unresolved childhood trauma about… being left alone in a creepy old house. Good thing  issue won’t get triggered any time soon!

All of this, plus a random procession of silent, mask-wearing children into their property’s backyard animal cemetery (“they spelled it wrong!” the daughter cries) and a single, painfully creepy neighbor who stares at the family through a window while smoking a cigarette, set the tone for ‘s endless, obvious, obnoxious plot shifts into “terrifying” paths.

Meaning: what seemed creepy or exciting in the film’s trailers falls flat. There’s no subtlety about that procession of masked children, for example; no logic that the characters can fall back on to logically co-exist in a “hey, this small town is just kinda weird” way. The obvious and freaky just sits in plain view, like a rotting cat corpse. Instead of yelling “Don’t open that door!” at the screen, we the viewers are left wanting the irredeemably dumb characters to hurry up and get themselves killed.

I left wondering what I was supposed to be creeped out by in my real life as a parallel. Making bad real estate decisions? Not quitting my job at a hospital and fleeing town the instant I saw a vision of a dead patient coming back to life (or, worse, having my infant son repeat the same anecdote a few days later)? Having a neighbor who called his dead dog a “helluva sniffer”? Nonstandard spelling?

Lithgow for the lulz

The good news: every single actor seems in on the joke. Every bad decision is pantomimed by ‘s leads with wide-eyed wonder, and they oversell every stupid or terrified moment with  enough gravitas and effort to count as WWE-caliber reactions.

As a bonus for anyone who attends for the lulz, John Lithgow is an absolute highlight in terms of selling the film’s absurdity. Is he a creep? A monster? A savior in the end, primed to save the day? Lithgow’s performance brilliantly straddles the line between these possibilities. His bulging eyes peer through a wrinkled, bearded face as if he were haunted by the fact that the new family in his neighborhood is really this stupid.

To be clear, I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of last year’s adaptation, but at least that film had its share of quality surprises, gore-splosions, and unique twists on the scary-clown cliché. Do not go into expecting any quality overlap. Instead, expect a sentiment much like this tweet, from yours truly:

My favorite thing about seeing Pet Sematary this week was the *one* scene where the film wasn’t being laughed at for tongue-in-cheek cheese, where a couple was being sweet to each other, and a guy in the crowd ripped a room-filling fart. Kinda says everything.

— Sam Machkovech (@samred) April 4, 2019

Sam Machkovech Sam has written about the combined worlds of arts and tech since his first syndicated column launched in 1996. He can regularly be found losing quarters at Add-A-Ball in Seattle, WA.
Email[email protected]//Twitter@samred

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