If you thought the ending of the Pet Sematary remake was dark, there’s another version that’s arguably even darker.
EW has an exclusive video from the film’s never-before-scene alternate ending, below.
First, here’s the set-up (spoiler alert): As in the climax of the theatrical version, Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) follows his resurrected daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) as she drags her dying mother Rachel (Amy Seimetz) to the Pet Sematary. Then Louis and Ellie fight in the graveyard. Just as Louis gets the upper hand, Ellie morphs into an innocent, pleading guise and Louis hesitates to finish her off. But instead of a suddenly transformed zombie Rachel stabbing Louis from behind as in the official version, the alternate ending instead cuts to this:
What follows after this scene is a superbly creepy and disturbing sequence that’s shown in full in the Pet Sematary home video release (June 25 for Digital; July 9 for Blu-Ray and DVD).
The alternate ending strikes a different tone than the theatrical cut, which concluded with an undead Louis, Rachel, and Ellie approaching the family car as young Gage sat inside and audiences heard the chirp of a car alarm doorlock.
Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer reveal this alternate ending was how screenwriters Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler originally wanted to conclude their adaptation of King’s horror classic.
“We love both endings,” Widmyer says. “This ending is near and dear to us; it was the scripted ending.”
“It’s a sadder one, which is why we like it so much,” Kölsch adds.
So why did the ending change?
“Everybody liked the original scripted ending,” Kölsch says. “But both endings were tested [with preview audiences] and what came back is [the theatrical ending] was clearer to people and it was what people seemed to resonate with and it left them with fewer questions — I don’t mean questions in a good ambiguity way but questions in that people didn’t understand everything that happened.”
“[The alternate ending is] the ending that really should be tested a week after you screen a film when you’ve had more time to sit and process it,” Widmyer adds. “The theatrical ending is the big loud slam dunk ending where it goes out on a bang. There’s an immediacy to it that’s satisfying. The [original ending] is haunting, it’s lingering, it stays with you.”
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura previously told EW that three endings were shot, which might make you wonder what happened to the third version. But the directors clarify there were only two endings actually filmed. “There wasn’t really a third shot ending,” Kölsch says. “The ‘third ending’ was a different cut of that same footage. We can understand how people thought there was three but that was just finding different [ways of assembling the same footage] in the editing room.”
The new ending is one of several deleted scenes amid the 90 minutes of extras on the home video release.
“This is one of those situations where we really liked all the deleted scenes,” Widmyer says. “Sometimes you cut things because they’re not working, but all these scenes are ones we’re big fans of. You’re going to learn more about Rachel and her parents, there’s more Zelda and there’s a very cool back story revealed about Jud and his wife.”