For fans of Mary Lambert’s original 1989 adaptation of the beloved Stephen King book, the new remake of “Pet Sematary” is different enough to offer shock and surprises to even the most ardent of loyalists.
At its premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival, several audience members braced themselves for pivotal moments from the older movie, and then jumped or nervously laughed when their anticipation was met by a clever psych-out by directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, whose previous film, “Starry Eyes,” also played at SXSW.
The movie opens differently than its predecessor. This time, the family car door is open, and there are bloody handprints still fresh on the driver’s side window. A thick trail of blood leads from the house to outside, but there are no characters in the frame or much of a clue as to what’s happened. The film then jumps back to the fateful day the Creed family moved from Boston to Ludlow, Maine, teasing the high-speed danger just outside their new home’s driveway. Behind their home is a macabre grave site the local kids have named a “pet sematary” for their deceased animals. Just beyond the borders of the area lies an even scarier plot of land.