The new film version of Pet Sematary makes a major change to Stephen King’s book — and the bestselling author spoke exclusively to EW about what he thinks of it.
It turns out, Uncle Steve thinks it’s a good one.
At the time, King tweeted out the trailer that unveiled the switch and added praise for the film (“This is a scary movie. Be warned.“), but he never specifically reacted to the alteration the April 5 film made to his story.
If you’ve avoided hearing about the change, consider this your spoiler warning …
As part of a wide-ranging Q&A with King about the 1983 novel, the 1989 movie, and the upcoming adaptation, King spoke for the first time about the new film changing the child that gets killed and resurrected to big sister Ellie rather than toddler Gage.
His positive reaction clashes with the unhappy reactions of some of his Constant Readers.
“It’s something different,” King says. “They did a good job. Boy, I saw all the stuff that came online when people realized that it was Ellie rather than Gage that got run over in the road, and I’m thinking like, ‘Man, these people…’ It’s so nuts.”
Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer told EW the twist in screenwriter Jeff Buhler’s script allows the story to explore some new aspects of a child returning from the dead, since the older girl can say and do things a 2-year-old simply cannot.
King feels the movie still follows the beats of his original tale faithfully, despite the switch.
“You can take Route 301 and go to Tampa, or you could take Route 17 and go to Tampa. But both times, you’re gonna come out at Tampa!” he said with a laugh. “You know what I’m saying? It didn’t change anything for me. I thought, ‘Okay, I understand why they did it, because it’s maybe easier to work with a zombie when she’s a little girl than a toddler.’”
As for the movie overall?
“It’s f—ing great,” says King, who was not directly involved in the making of it. “It’s a really good movie. It’s a grown-up, adult kind of movie. It’s not like twelve semi-clad teens get killed in a summer camp.”
He also expressed praise for one of its rivals, saying it’s refreshing to see horror aimed at an older audience. “In this particular time frame, there’ve been several movies that have been successful, horror movies like Jordan Peele’s Get Out last year. And then I think when Us opens, I think it’s gonna be big. I think it’s gonna be huge. Those are like adult-type fantasies.”
He was right about Us, which a week after EW’s conversation with King had the biggest debut ever for an original horror story.
King says he’s eager to catch Pet Sematary on the big screen, since he watched a work-in-progress on his computer, and it was a little distracted by it being emblazoned with his own name.
“You know, I streamed it. They sent me the thing, and man, it had a big ‘Stephen King’ in the middle of it! You know how they watermark things?” he said. “So I’ll have to see it at the movie theater.”
For the full Q&A with King, go here: Pet Sematary exhumed — Stephen King looks back at his most disturbing story.