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Pet Sematary (2019) - Blu-ray Review

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Pet Sematary

2017’s IT adaptation has heralded somewhat of a renaissance of Stephen King based films. The deftly adapted retelling of King’s doorstop novel from the Eighties raked in over 700 million worldwide, so it was no surprise to hear that further re-adaptations were quickly put into production.

2019 will see no less than 3 hit our big screen. With IT: Chapter 2 and Doctor Sleep hitting later this year. But first cab off the rank is a new version of what King Die-Hards refer to as his scariest work: Pet Sematary. It is a beloved novel, with a highly regarded film adaption from 1989 already under its belt. So was this one worth the trouble?

"It is a decent, well made horror film, with great actors and production design ... it is a marked improvement on the first adaptation"


Set in modern day Ludlowe, Maine, this tells the story of the Creed family, a quartet of Chicago dwellers that move to the countryside for a fresh and slower pace of life. Dr. Creed (Jason Clarke) is a decent, pragmatic and understandably scientifically based man; his wife Rachel is his devoted wife, but polar opposite, and has a sensitivity that springs from a childhood trauma; and then their two kids: Ellie, their 9 year-old, Gage, their toddler, and ‘Church’ the cat. By all appearance, they are the perfect, ‘normal’ family—relatable and remarkably uninteresting. What could possibly go wrong here?

Well the Creeds have just had the misfortune of buying a strip of land with a very busy trucking lane out front, and a pet cemetery hidden deep within their woods. It (and the forest beyond it) holds ancient and dark secrets that, through a series of misfortunes, bring down tragedy and supernatural hell on them.

Let’s get this out of the way up front. I never liked the original film. To me, it suffered the same misfortunes as many of the King adaptations did back then: TV special level acting, neutered rating issues, and a generally ambience of cheap and nasty. As a longtime King fan, it is a rare day when I consider one of these cinematic adaptations worth the bother. None of these shackles from the past hinder this movie. It is free to adapt King’s dark story free from any confines.

Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer have come out swinging with a brave adaptation. I say brave, because they have deviated not from the arc of the story but by the means in which shit goes bad. King purists already were crying foul from the reveal of a major change in King’s story, but much like Lewis Teague’s changes in the film adaptation of Cujo, this one works pretty well. 

Here you have actors with some serious acting chops, easily outstripping the previous go around. The likes and Clarke and Lithgow can do this stuff in their sleep. They deliver nuanced, empathetic turns each and the film is better for it. Young Jeté Laurence is a stand out as Ellie and delivers the natural and preternatural aspects of this character in an impressively understated and off-putting manner.

The film looks ominous and rich for the most part, but there are certain scenes where it edges into the hokey misty cemeteries of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Unfortunately there is an over-reliance on jump scares as well that cheapens the proceedings. But by far this films greatest flaw is its pacing. There is great care placed on the audience bonding with these characters—the better part of the first two acts in fact. What believability they earn through this is washed away quickly after the death of their Ellie. The grief is implied but not explored, not given time to wash over Dr. Creed and aid in his bat shit crazy notions of resurrecting his daughter. No sooner has the man attended her funeral than he is now slipping his kindly neighbor a drugged nightcap to fulfill his plan. It’s just an unnatural leap that needed more scenes between. My final niggle is that the character of Gage is essentially made redundant by making Ellie the one who is killed and resurrected. There is an added sense of peril, having him there at the finale I suppose, but it really was hammered home by Ellie’s effective physical threat anyway. In my opinion the script would have worked better excising Gage completely.Pet Sematary

They use the audience foreknowledge of specific scenes to make changes and play with them, which you’ll either get a kick out of or despise them for. If you’re going in cold, with no knowledge, it won’t matter.

I enjoyed this movie. It is a decent, well made horror film, with great actors and production design. In my opinion, it is a marked improvement on the first adaptation, but it still fails to capture the true horror of Stephen King’s darkest tome: what mad things grief makes a man do. A good night at the movies for sure, but it won’t haunt you afterwards.

3 stars

Pet Sematary

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- July 10, 2019
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish
Audio:
English: Dolby Atmos; English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1; German: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc; two-disc set; DVD copy, digital code
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A


Paramount treats Pet Sematary fans with a nice little blu-ray + DVD + digital 2-disc combo pack that features a 1080p 2.39:1 transfer with a Dolby Atmos, and a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio track. Included on the blu-ray disc are an alternate ending, seven deleted scenes, and a handful of featurettes. A total of more than 90 minutes of bonus content.

Despite its lack of a commentary from co-directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, Paramount has left us with a nice package that will be a great addition to anyone's home video collection. The plastic eco-cutout case comes packaged within a matte-printed slipcover that also contains a DVD disc with the feature film, and a redemption code for digital download via Paramount's digital locker service.

If you like what Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer did with this film, then this is one to add to to your horror blu-ray collection.

Video
Though a bit soft in places, the 1080p transfer is a good one for a film that runs the gamut of lights and darks throughout. The darks in many of the film's dimly-lit scenes don't reach pure black and there is the occasional spot of noise where dark and light areas converge, but that could be from the original digital photography.

Details are almost always clean and sharp with every thread of clothing and strand of hair holding together nicely. To be sure, pay particularly close attention to Church's coat after he comes back from the pet cemetery. Jud's beard and face is also a great indicator of the detail afforded by this transfer.

We get the most impressive views of Laurie Rose's cinematography in the film's interior shots as well as those that take place within the cemetery. Despite some occasional banding, the shots are gorgeous and are handled nicely in the blu-ray transfer.

Audio
This is where the presentation really shines. The Dolby Atmos track brings the entire experience to life with a room-working surround that occasionally caught me off guard as we hear creaks, groans, and branches breaking from directly behind, from above, and from the left and right rears. A truly good workout.

The spooky cemetery environment is perfect for the surround effect and Paramount does a great job utilizing our entire home theater system to ramp up the frights and chills.

Christopher Young's moody score is also especially memorable as its beats and howls keep every speaker active throughout the presentation including the sub which rarely turns off.

Supplements:

We get tons of extra material that comes on the disc including deleted scenes, an alternate ending and a lengthy four-part featurette.

Commentary:

  • • None

Special Features:

  • • Alternate Ending (09:16)
  • • Deleted and Extended Scenes
    1. Daddy's Nervous Too (02:17)
    2. Your Kids are Lucky (01:53)
    3. I Wanted Her to Die (03:27)
    4. She DIdn't Come Back the Same (03:44)
    5. It's Not Real (01:58)
    6. I'm Leaving in the Morning (01:11)
    7. Did You Miss Me Judson? (01:43)
  • • Night Terrors - Clips of the film's dream sequences for each of the three main characters
  • • Louis (01:40)
  • • Rachel (01:08)
  • • Ellie (01:09)
  • • The Tale of Timmy Baterman (03:04) - Jud (John Lithgow) tells us the story of Timmy Baterman who returned from the Vietnam War and was resurrected in the burial ground.

Beyond the Deadfall - Four-part featurette totaling more than an hour of material. By far the best of the bunch.

  • • Chapter One: Resurrection (16:54) - Co-directors xxx and xx sit, and other cast and crew members sit to discuss the re-making of the film and what was needed to make it fresh yet hold onto the spirit of King's novel.
  • Chapter Two The Final Resting Place (12:38) - Cast and crew discuss finding the right location to mimic their Maine setting for the film. We also get some insight into the costumes used on the characters and the actual cemetery itself.
  • Chapter Three: The Road to Sorrow (13:59) - Stunt coordinators demonstrate how the five cats used in the film are trained for their roles. Also discussed is the set for the cemetery's deadfall.
  • Chapter Four: Death Comes Home (18:07) - a creature and make-up effects short that gets into the effects used on the Ellie and Zelda character .

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 5/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

Pet Sematary

MPAA Rating: R for horror violence, bloody images, and some language.
Runtime:
101 mins
Director
: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
Writer:
Jeff Buhler
Cast:
Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow
Genre
: Horror
Tagline:
They don't come back the Same.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Sometimes, dead is better."
Theatrical Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
April 5, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 9, 2019.
Synopsis: Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

Pet Sematary

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