You are not ready for Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer‘s big screen adaptation of Pet Sematary. As a huge fan of the Stephen King source material, perhaps this was just my mind running wild with high hopes and expectations, but I just couldn’t imagine a big studio like Paramount giving the duo the OK to jump feet first into a book about grief and embrace all of those unpleasant and sinister themes in a nationwide release. Turns out, I was very wrong. Not only does Kölsch and Widmyer’s movie tread into some very dark territory, but they also get to honor King’s novel while putting their own spin on the story. How’s that for an exciting combination?
For those unfamiliar with the book or the 1989 film directed by Mary Lambert, Pet Sematary centers on the Creed family. In this rendition, Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz step in as Louis and Rachel Creed. They decide it’s time for the family to ditch the big city and move to rural Maine so that they can spend a little more quality time with their kids, Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie). Their new home sweet home seems great, but that’s because when they first move in, they’re entirely unaware of the threat that lurks right in their own backyard.
With Pet Sematary making its big debut at SXSW 2019, I recently got to sit down with Kölsch and Widmyer in Austin for an extended podcast interview during which we covered everything from looking back to when they first went after the project in 2014, discussing how the success of 2017’s IT might have influenced their opportunity here, figuring out where to drop in Stephen King Easter eggs, and so much more. You can hear about it all using the audio embed below:
Be sure to catch Pet Sematary when it hits theaters on April 5th. If you haven’t read my review yet, I highly recommend it!
Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer:
- Going back to Starry Eyes; do they look at that film as the one that led to opportunities like this?
- They actually went after the Pet Sematary remake back in 2014 and were told they would never get it.
- “The best horror movies are the ones that aren’t approached as horror movies.”
- Was there ever a concern that the studio wouldn’t let them go as dark as they wanted?
- There were discussions on how this movie could follow in the footsteps of 2017’s IT.
- The duo talks about working with young Jeté Laurence and the limited direction they had to give her.
- Working with Amy Seimetz; the challenge of living in that headspace for the entire production process.
- The dumbwaiter element was their Hail Mary.
- Did they have anything to do with Alex Essoe’s casting in Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep adaptation?
- What was it like working with Leo and Tonic, the cats who play Church in the movie? Was there any CG involved?
- The choice to add the Derry sign in the movie.
- What were their visual influences? Were they other Stephen King adaptations?
- What was the very first thing to terrify them as kids?
- The moment when we realize we all grew up in the exact same town.
- Do they feel the pressure to outdo what came before in the horror genre and deliver bigger and bigger scares?
- They weigh in on the marketing campaign for the movie.
- Widmyer and Kölsch look back on the Scream TV show. What’s the deal with Season 3?