Film adaptations seem to be hit and miss. They’re either great; The Hunger Games and The Book Thief (perfect), or they’re awful; The Maze Runner (I still haven’t watched 2&3), The Vampire’s Assistant (I can rant for hours), or The War of the Worlds (just no). With that in mind, reading Pet Sematary and watching the film so soon after probably wasn’t the best idea, but is what I did.
I really enjoyed the book, but thought the film was lacking. I think the changes made for the film removed some of the suspense and creepiness that made the book so good.
One of the first major changes is the relationship between Jud and Louis. Instead of the wonderful relationship they have in the book, Jud is the creepy neighbour, and the lack of relationship means that some of Jud’s actions don’t quite make sense, or take on a sinister edge. While in the book the relationship between Jud and the family mean that him showing Louis the place to bury Church demonstrates how much he cares about Ellie, whereas in the film Jud has barely interacted with the family so this action doesn’t have the pure intent behind it. In the film Jud also seems to be aware that this will change Church in a bad way, which doesn’t match with what we see in the book.
The film also changes which child is killed. While I partly understand the decision to kill Ellie instead, an older child can act the part of creepy zombie, this meant that one of the creepier parts of the book didn’t happen in the same way. Ellie having nightmares about what Louis was going to do, and scaring Rachel into trying to stop him, was one of the most sinister parts of the book, and while the film tried to recreate this with Gage, it didn’t create the same feeling of suspense and terror.
In the book we get to understand Louis’s thought process, which adds to the suspense, particularly at the end of the book. We don’t get the same sense of this in the film, and the ending differs quite a bit from the book. The film is quite forgettable and the end doesn’t leave you with anything, whereas you’re left with a feeling with unease after finishing the book.
Overall the movie seems to move closer to a stereotypical horror movie relying on jump scares, rather than building up the terror through the story where we both fear and understand Louis’s actions.
I’d recommend reading the book and skipping the movie. On an unrelated note if anything ever happens to Dominick then he’s being cremated.
Have you read/watched Pet Sematary? What did you think?