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Top 10 Reasons Pet Sematary 2019 Is Better Than The Original

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Sometimes the remake is better. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Reasons “Pet Sematary” (2019) Is Better Than the Original. For this list, we’re taking a look at ways the 2019 version of “Pet Sematary” improved upon its 1989 predecessor. Since it’s hard to talk about these reasons without delving into a few major plot points, a spoiler alert is in order. Watch the video at WatchMojo.com
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Top 10 Reasons Pet Sematary 2019 Is Better Than The Original


Sometimes the remake is better. Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Reasons “Pet Sematary” (2019) Is Better Than the Original.

For this list, we’re taking a look at ways the 2019 version of “Pet Sematary” improved upon its 1989 predecessor. Since it’s hard to talk about these reasons without delving into a few major plot points, a spoiler alert is in order.

#10: The Pet Sematary Has More of a Presence

This movie’s titular Pet Sematary has a lingering presence that ironically gives it a beating heart. Although there’s clearly something menacing and even otherworldly afoot, you can still see why our characters are drawn to the setting. It almost feels as if the Pet Sematary is calling out to people, feeding off their grief and desires. This makes Jud’s actions a bit more understandable when he recklessly convinces Louis to bury Church beyond the woods. The Pet Sematary is like the devil on your shoulder, whispering what you want to hear into your ear. It convinces you that there’s no harm to bringing one dead animal back from the grave. Like a glass of whiskey, though, one taste can lead you down a dark path.

#9: Really Great Scares

Jump scares can come off as cheap if executed poorly, but in “Pet Sematary” they’re effectively used to toy with our expectations. For example, when Rachel enters the bathroom in one scene, we expect her to open and close the medicine cabinet, revealing something sinister suddenly standing in the mirror’s reflection. Rather than that old cliché, though, Rachel opens the cabinet to find a dumbwaiter shaft with her twisted sister inside. In another scene, the audience is left waiting for Ellie to pop up and attack Jud. He instead encounters Church sneaking about, making it all the more surprising when a masked Ellie eventually does emerge and strike Jud’s Achilles’ heel. And, after playing with Jud, Ellie catches her mother off-guard in a game of hide and stab.

#8: Tighter Pacing

Although the new version of “Pet Sematary” is roughly the same length as the original, the pacing feels much tighter this time around. That’s partially because the film doesn’t waste time on plot points that don’t really go anywhere, such as Missy Dandridge’s suicide or Louis’ strenuous relationship with his in-laws. More focus is thus dedicated to fleshing out meatier subplots, like Rachel’s traumatic childhood. The original film also dragged a bit in its second act, slowing down the narrative whenever we cut to Rachel traveling back to Maine. In the new version, the second act doesn’t leave any room for the audience to breathe, which is exactly what one wants out of a morbid horror movie like this.

#7: How Zelda Dies

Arguably the creepiest part of the first film was Rachel’s sister Zelda, who’s left bedridden due to her spinal meningitis. Zelda is every bit as spine tingling here, making the audience squirm in their seats whenever she’s onscreen. The remake manages to up the ante even more, however, when it comes to Zelda’s ultimate demise. In the original, Zelda starts convulsing and chokes to death right in front of young Rachel. While there was nothing Rachel could do in this scenario, the new version places more guilt on her shoulders. Although she’s instructed not to, Rachel uses the dumbwaiter to send up her sister’s food, resulting in Zelda falling down the shaft to her death. This is not only more shocking; it’s also more emotionally scarring for Rachel.

#6: Everyone Is Involved in the Climax

One missed opportunity in the original “Pet Sematary” is that we never see Rachel confront her husband about bringing their child back from the dead. Family tragedy is one of the story’s key themes, but the Creeds spend most of the second act separated. The 2019 adaptation delivers a scene that the first film was missing, reuniting all four family members at the harrowing climax. Returning home with Gage, Rachel is distraught to find her zombified daughter. The way Louis tries to bring them together as a family again is uncomfortable, disturbing and even darkly humorous. Actress Amy Seimetz says so much here with her facial reactions alone. Although Rachel tries to hug Ellie, she can’t fight the overwhelming feeling that this is just plain wrong.

#5: Church Is Creepier

We know that the first movie was made in 1989, but the effects used to create Church’s glowing eyes are starting to look kind of cheesy. In the new version, Church looks less like a supernatural entity and more like a feral cat who’s cashed in the last of his nine lives. Church’s appearance is grittier and more grounded, which in turn makes him much scarier. With a simple death glare, Church asserts that he’s one cat you wouldn’t want to cross. There’s also more interaction between Ellie and Church after he comes back from the dead. Whereas Church scratches Louis in the original, he sinks his claws into Ellie here, leaving a greater impact and emphasizing just how far gone this reanimated cat is.

#4: The Acting

The original film had its fair share of memorable performances, particularly Fred Gwynne as the folksy Jud. But at the same time, the acting in the first film wasn’t without its melodramatic moments. The remake’s ensemble, meanwhile, never misses a beat with Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz both turning in some of their best work. When John Lithgow was cast as Jud, it sounded like a match made in heaven and his performance doesn’t disappoint. The scene-stealer, however, is newcomer Jeté Laurence as Ellie. Laurence completely transforms herself in the film’s second half, going from a wide-eyed innocent to a downright terrifying demon child. As unnerving as Ellie is, she balances out the scares with some surprisingly hilarious one-liners.

#3: Self-Aware Humor

You wouldn’t expect a film where a child dies to be especially funny, but “Pet Sematary” finds the humor in the macabre. While the movie never becomes a straight-up comedy, the filmmakers aren’t afraid to embrace just how outlandish some of the circumstances are. We can’t help but crack up when Louis awkwardly lies down next to his recently resurrected daughter. No words are spoken, but you can tell from the expression on Louis’ face that he’s thinking, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” Another exceptional source of comedy is Ellie’s line delivery, which ranges from gleefully evil to matter-of-factly psychotic. We especially love it when Ellie is rejected by her mother and she responds in the most nonchalant yet wicked way possible. It’s tongue-in-cheek terrifying.

#2: Ellie Dies Instead of Gage

At first, it looks like Gage is going to be the one who gets struck by a truck, keeping in line with the original movie and book. Instead, Louis pulls his son out of the way and it’s Ellie who endures the fatal crash. While both deaths are tragic, Ellie’s works better from a storytelling standpoint: since Ellie is older, she has a more defined personality and the audience feels a stronger attachment to her. So, when she comes back from the dead, it’s all the more jarring. On top of that, Ellie pretty much disappeared in the second act of the first movie. Since she’s the character who’s the most curious about death, it only makes sense to give her a larger role.

#1: That Ending

Ellie’s death isn’t the only major change that works to the remake’s advantage: in the original, Louis succeeds in euthanizing Gage, but unwisely decides to bring Rachel back to life, resulting in his demise. In this version, Ellie murders and resurrects Rachel, who stabs Louis through the chest before he can send his daughter back to the grave. Everyone is turned into an undead monster except Gage, although it likely won’t be long until he joins his family. This might stray from the source material, but we’d be lying if we said this new direction wasn’t insanely entertaining and refreshingly unpredictable. It also leaves the door open for numerous possibilities. We never expected to say this, but we’d totally be onboard for “Pet Sematary Two.”
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