To answer this question, we need to look closely at both adaptations. Undoubtedly the original from 1989 is a classic. Even if you watch it now for the first time, you will still feel creeps because then the horror genre didn’t rely on the so-called “jump scares,” but on pure psychology. That’s why it’s worth asking if the remake has succeeded in surpassing the original.
First of all I have to mention that the remake of “Pet Semetary” was directed by the man behind the remake of another beloved Stephen King classic – IT, whose first part came out two years ago and the second is expected later this year. The remake of IT achieved unparalleled success, and was hands down far better than the original from 1990. With that in mind, can we expect that the magic has recurred and the remake of Pet Semetary again shines over the original? The two films are almost identical. About 90% of the story is the same as the differences are mainly in the third act. I’m just not going to reveal them, in order not to spoil them, but I will use the 89th adaptation as a basis.
In the original that follows the book closely, a young family is set up in a town in Maine (one of Stephen King’s templates), which borders with Derry (if you remember, that is the city in which IT takes place). The father is a doctor who gets a job there, and with his family buys a house that has an Indian cemetery in its “backyard.” Actually, the title of the book/movie is slightly misleading because the Indian one is far further than the pet one. As expected, the Indian has special abilities to return the dead from the afterlife.
The most important thing in this case is the internal struggle the protagonist (the father), is going through. Should he resurrect his deceased child or not? After the initial experience with the family cat, being successful at about 50/50 rate (it returns, but with the temper of the world’s nastiest cat), its anguish is really great. Despite this experience and the warnings of the neighbor, he still decides to resurrect the child. From then on, the differences between the original and the remake begin.
In order not to spoil your fun, I will only say that the end of the remake is slightly meager, compared to the original one. I understand that the director’s aim was to escape from the cliché, but there are far more elegant ways to break a coconut. If the original is 9/10, then I would give the remake 6.5/10. The main reason for this rating is that there really is no need for the remake of “Pet Semetery” to exist, because the original is scary enough even today. The case with IT was different, because at the time it was not given a proper budget, and what landed directly as a TV series was ridiculous (my 10-year-old self, may not agree, but if you watch the movie now, it is quite absurd). It’s one thing to make a remake of a classic and quite another of an absurd horror.
In conclusion, I would like to say that although the film is not better than the original, it has its own moments. It is much more modernized and dynamic. The acting is extremely good, and the effects are on a whole different level. But what disappoints me is the end. The next paragraph is my vision on an ending that will respond to modern times, while paying an omage to the original. Whether you saw the remake or not, take a look. If you do not want spoilers, first watch the remake and then come back here. In the end, my score still remains 6.5/10. Enjoy it yourselves and do not resurrect your pets because “Sometimes death is better”!
And here is my version of the ending, which starts to differ when the father hides Gage in the car:
“Their daughter kills her mother and prepares to kill her father who, after seeing what a monster the little one is, is firmly convinced to stop her. Finding the syringe, he goes to chase her around the house to kill her. However she manages to outwit him and wound him so that he loses the syringe. After that, the resurrected girl goes to the car, determined to kill Gage, who waves to her from inside. But before she unlocks the door, her father knocks’ her down (a short struggle and perhaps the dialogue from the actual end would also be perfect) and cuts off her head with the shovel. Leaning on the car, already in madness, he decides, that he can bring back at least the mother, because she’s just died. In the end, the cemetery haunts you to find reasons to return. He puts Gage in his crib in their room and takes the mother to bury her. After that, he comes back home and sits down on the table, waiting for her to return. And indeed, shortly after she walks through the door. He looks up and sees the bloodied face, but unlike us, the viewers, he does not understand that she is not the same. He gets up and hugs her (or kiss her), but she takes a knife at the same moment and shoves it in his back, whispering “Sometimes death is better.” in his year. After the father falls dead, the camera moves to the second floor, where Gage sits in the crib. On a blurry background, the door opens, he turns, says “Mama” and the screen fades to black.”
What do you think about this ending, is it better or worse? You can share that in the comments below.