Parent Review

Mommy Movie Review: Can Kids See “Pet Sematary”

I discovered Stephen King when I was young and had no business reading about man-eating dogs or blood-thirsty clowns. I was about 11 years old when I smuggled my sister’s copy of Salem’s Lot into my room, and stole every King book she purchased after that (once she’d finished them of course, so I wouldn’t incur the Big Sister Wrath). Pet Sematary was always one of my favorites, thanks to the chilling descriptions misty graveyards and tiny zombies. You can imagine my disappointment when the movie was released in 1989 and simply didn’t live up. Scenes of complete terror had been rendered almost comical, which happens far too often to Stephen King’s tales.
Now, at long last, Hollywood has delivered the Pet Sematary the book deserved.
This is thanks in part to solid performances by Jason Clarke and John Lithgow, but the stars of the show are Jeté Laurence, who plays daughter Ellie, and especially Church the cat (actually 4 different felines). It takes acting chops for a lovely young lady to inspire genuine fear, and Laurence jettisons Pet Sematary into a terrifying downward spiral. This movie suffers from bad-timing though, because “the risen dead” simply aren’t that scary anymore. Studios have cranked out every version of “zombie movie” they could think of in recent years, so the horror of Pet Sematary just isn’t that horrible. The cast wrings every drop of creepy out of the 1983 story though, which is why I’m giving the new Pet Sematary a B+.
But, can you take your kids to see it?
Pet Sematary is rated R for “horror violence, bloody images, and some language.” I only recall a handful of dirty words and there are no sexual references to speak of, which means the violence and gore will be your main concerns. Pet Sematary is bloody, but it’s especially difficult to watch because you care about the people who get hurt. This is a story about a young family who is simply trying to be closer to each other. They don’t deserve any of the evil that befalls them. The children of this film are not spared either, which makes for a solid scary movie but also one that would be difficult for younger views. That’s why I’m recommending Pet Sematary to horror-movie-loving 13-year-olds and up. It’s definitely scary fun, but not the film you’d want to share with a kid who’s never seen a scary movie before (for that I’d recommend A Quiet Place, The Sixth Sense or Happy Death Day).
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