The trailer for the new version of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary reveals a major change to the original story. This is rocky ground, but let’s dig in …
The Mask Is Off
As you saw in the first shot, that warped cat mask was part of a memorial to a lost pet. In this shot we see a child returning from the burial ground beyond that — the one that brings life back to the dead. She has a souvenir.
In the novel and 1989 movie, the child who dies tragically and comes back is Gage (played here by twins Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie.) But in directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer’s film (out April 5), he remains **spoiler warning** safely in the arms of mom Rachel (Amy Seimetz.)
Instead, it is older sister Ellie (played by 11-year-old Jeté Laurence) who suffers the horrific fate, seen here after her resurrection, approaching her distraught father Louis (Jason Clarke.)
The filmmakers felt this change would bring more menace and also more heartbreak to the child’s return, since the older actress could build a stronger bond with her parents and neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) before returning … changed.
Beyond the Deadfall
Ellie also is able to express more of her own curiosity about the pet graveyard, while sensing something even more alluring and dangerous hidden deeper in the woods beyond the blowdown of branches that block the path. Later, she becomes a malevolent avatar of that place.
Again — this seems like a major surprise. And it is. But Paramount Pictures revealed her fate in the new trailer. And since 1983, readers have known that the premise of Pet Sematary is the unspeakable loss of a child.
The Cat Came Back
Here we see the cat Winston Churchill (a.k.a. Church), who is the first member of the Creed family to meet an untimely end — and an unnatural return. Still, he can’t resist wandering in the road.
In the trailer, Ellie sees her beloved little cat in danger and runs to save him. It’s not much of a leap to believe the cat, itself a manifestation of the burial ground beyond, is actually luring her there.
There’s a great smash cut in the trailer — Clarke’s Louis, screaming as he sees the truck bearing down on his little girl. Then, a tear running down his silent face as he stands at her funeral.
"A Charming Little Landmark"
The roughshod, misspelled “Pet Sematary” is actually the good place. It’s where local kids, inexorably feeling the pull of that more sinister place in the woods, hit that deadfall blockage and choose instead to bid their beloved, lost pets goodbye.
The Bad Place
Here we see Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) and Clarke’s Louis in what is certainly Little God Swamp, near the resurrection grounds. This is a place in King’s book that is described as a disorienting, otherworldly place. The trailer shows an almost alien landscape.
The Guardian Angel
Just like the rickety Pet Sematary, Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed) looks terrifying but is actually a symbol of good. Half his face is torn away from the car accident that killed him, but this agonized spirit still bearing those scars returns to warn the doctor who tried to save him.
Rachel Creed doesn’t like to talk about death, mostly because she experienced too much of it as a child. Her sister, Zelda, had a spinal disease that twisted and tortured her. That gruesome end still haunts her.
The Kindly Neighbor
Is Jud a force for good? He seems like it. And John Lithgow plays him as a man with a decent heart and good intentions. But he has a secret, and secrets want to get out. He shows Louis the burial ground, even though he knows its darkness and dangers. Sometimes even good men lead themselves astray.
One thing the trailer probably shouldn’t have given away is this scene. Jud, hearing a noise on the second floor, cautiously climbs the steps to find … only the cat. Poor Jud. He should know better by now.
Nope, Nothing Wrong Here
Just some wholesome fun with the local kids. This appears to be in the resurrection grounds — not the Pet Sematary. These kids shouldn’t be there. Somebody call the parents.