The first solid look at Paramount Pictures’ Pet Sematary remake is here, and it’s a big’un. The latest take on the absolutely fantastic and award-winning 1983 horror novel from Stephen King, and its serviceable movie adaptation in 1989, is due out in Spring 2019 as part of a revival of sorts of the acclaimed author’s works. It’s a great time to be a horror fan, and an even better time to be a King fan; if these new images from the upcoming feature are any indication, 2019 is going to continue that trend.
Directed by Starry Eyes helmers Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, Pet Sematary stars Jason Clarke as Dr. Louis Creed opposite Amy Seimetz as his wife Rachel, Jeté Laurence (Sneaky Pete) as their daughter Ellie, and twins Hugo and Lucas Lavoie as young Gage. John Lithgow takes on the role of Jud Crandall, famously brought to life (so to speak) in the previous adaptation by the late Fred Gwynne. Not yet featured in any of the promotional material (for reasons King fans will understand) is the part of Zelda, Rachel’s sister, as played by Alyssa Brooke Levine. The highly anticipated film arrives in theaters on April 5, 2019.
Courtesy of EW, the first images from Pet Sematary reveal the core cast along with the creepy cat that is certain to become a fan favorite. Additionally, the cast and crew offered commentary on this adaptation’s approach to telling King’s story. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said:
“One of the things about doing a new version now is our understanding of life and death has progressed, but are we more sophisticated about it or less? One of the most interesting themes in the book, the original movie, and this one is, ‘How far would you go to see someone again?’ But another thing we’re exploring is how you can’t run [from the things that scare you.]”
Lithgow, seen above opposite Laurence, also commented on how he sees Jud:
“He is a good man, but he is a good man with troubles in his life. And he’s grown up with some real demons. He really cares about this little girl. That’s what this scene is about, the beginning of a connection. He can delight a child, and it’s a very interesting color to this dark man.… It gives a very genuine and human motivation to everything that happens in this genre horror film. And when that happens, when you really care about these people and you really believe in what motivates them, then the stakes go way, way up.
“He’s a loner, and he’s chosen to be alone. His life changed. He was a man whose entire life was wrapped up with his marriage, his wife. And they didn’t have children, but they wanted children. In the script there’s this very simple and sweet line, ‘It didn’t work out for Norma and me. We wanted to keep ourselves to ourselves.’ You just know that was a really, really deep relationship. And the loss of that relationship has defined his life ever since.”
Clarke gets to step into the shoes of Louis Creed, a physician tasked with preventing death and harm at all costs who becomes intoxicated with the ability to restore life after death, even if it’s a corrupted sort of life. Clarke talked about the tone of the story itself, in that regard:
“That’s what makes it more than a horror movie. I was like, ‘Where’s the horror? I’m disturbed.’ That was it for me, I found it insanely disturbing. [King] reaches inside you in some way, he always does. There is great intellect and great subconscious and subtext and thought and reason behind it.”
Widmyer further describes Louis’ character, calling him “a guy who thinks he has death figured out. ‘I see death every day, I work in an ER. Don’t tell me about death, I understand death.’ But he doesn’t understand death when it’s dropped onto his lap. He’ll do whatever he can to undo it. It’s sort of like the science world meets the supernatural world.”
Seimetz’s character Rachel brings some interesting backstory into the tale:
“To understand why loss is so tragic, you have to understand why life is so beautiful. Rachel went through something extremely traumatic when she was younger with her sister [Zelda], and she freezes up when death is talked about. She doesn’t want to face it and doesn’t want her daughter to go through the same thing.
“Rachel wants her kid to have a childhood and not have to think about death like she did. It’s a hard topic for her to discuss. Not just because she wants to protect her kid, but also because she’s protecting some part of herself as well.”
Widmyer teased the eventual reveal of Zelda:
“It’s more accurate to the book, I’ll just say that. In the original movie, it’s a 21-year-old guy in drag playing it, and in the book, as you recall, it’s a 10-year-old girl. You go, ‘How do you top Zelda?’ It was big and scary and awesome, but if you think about the reality of the Zelda situation, what that would do to a family, with her wasting away in this bedroom, and a younger sister being frightened of her older sister’s debilitating illness, that on its own is pretty scary.
“The grounded nature of that horror would actually be scarier than a supernatural version of it. The nurse, the medical equipment, what that room would feel like as a layer of dust went on everything, how that would seem from the perspective of an 8-year-old, going into that room to bring food to her, and how scary that would be.”
Widmyer expanded on the themes of Pet Sematary:
“This book is about death and talking about death and grief, and the pet cemetery is the first stage of that. It’s almost like by not communicating about death, the chain reaction of the entire movie happens.”
“Having a pet die is a way that a lot of kids learn about death, and how to deal with death for the first time. It kind of helps you accept death as a natural part of life. Whenever you’re down, it’s kind of like, ‘If I go one more time I can just break even!’ That happens a lot in Pet Sematary. Instead of just accepting the loss, they’re always trying to double down — and it just keeps costing more life.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with either King’s original story or the 1989 movie adaptation, here’s a look at the official synopsis of King’s book (via Amazon):
When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic and rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Yet despite Ludlow’s tranquility, there’s an undercurrent of danger that exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed’s beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing…as is evidenced by the makeshift pet cemetery out back in the nearby woods. Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there—one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself…
For more on Pet Sematary‘s road to resurrection, get caught up with our recent write-ups linked below:
- ‘Pet Sematary’ Adaptation Starts Filming; First Set Photo Revealed by Co-Directors
- John Lithgow to Join Paramount’s ‘Pet Sematary’ Remake as Jud Crandall
- Jason Clarke in Negotiations to Lead Paramount’s ‘Pet Sematary’ Remake
- ‘Pet Sematary’ Remake Lands ‘Starry Eyes’ Directors