“Pet Sematary” (2019)

Horror

Running time: 101 minutes

Written by: Jeff Buhler

Directed by: Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer

Featuring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow

Jud Crandall: “They said the ground was… bad.”

Louis Creed: “Sour. They said the ground was sour.”

Critical Commentary

This month heralded the arrival of the Stephen King adaptation and remake, “Pet Sematary” (2019) on to DVD/Blu-ray/4K, which is not known as one of his great works but the original is actually a very decent horror movie with a very good director in Mary Lambert as well as some excellent performance in the cast, most especially the great character actor Fred Gwynne. The original is known for some great shocks, some very good special effects, a very spooky setting as well as interesting enough to almost have become classic. Now with the arrival of what must be considered a new interest in King novels as well as the massive success of “It” (2017) studios are looking at what they can exploit quickly so we now have this remake which is a far lesser success than the original, seeming like a tepid schlocky cash in, which is a shame as it deserved much better than what we have received.

The story revolves around Louis Creed, a doctor from Boston, Massachusetts who moves to the small town of Ludlow, Maine with his wife Rachel, their two young children, Ellie and Gage, and Ellie’s cat, Church. At the university hospital, Louis is left shaken after failing to save the life of Victor Pascow, a student who was fatally injured after being struck by a vehicle. He later experiences a vivid dream in which Victor Pascow leads him to the back of the cemetery and warns him not to “venture beyond.” On Halloween, Church is killed by a truck. Jud takes Louis to the Pet Sematary, then farther to an ancient burial ground to bury Church. The next day, Louis is stunned when Church returns home alive, although he is more aggressive, violently ripping open a bird. I don’t think you need to have the gift of second sight to know where this story is headed but it does devolve into a mess that if you have seen the original or read the book you will not be pleased by where it ends up. 

Technical Commentary

Paramount Home Entertainment released Pet Sematary (2019) to Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack. The dual-layered UHD66 disc sits comfortably opposite a Region Free, BD50 disc, and both are housed inside a black case.

Video Review

“Pet Sematary” arrives on 4K with a strong but disappointing HEVC H.265 encode, showing a few appreciable improvements, but the overall results are fairly similar to the Blu-ray. 

Shot on Arri Alexa cameras capable of up to 3.4K resolution but later mastered to a 2K digital intermediate, the upscaled transfer comes with slightly better definition and clarity in the surrounding foliage and in the threading of clothing. However, the 2160p picture comes with its fair share of mildly soft scenes and some instances of negligible aliasing along the sharpest edges. 

The best and biggest improvement is the richer and marginally wider color gamut, delivering more vivid, full-bodied primaries than its HD SDR counterpart.

Audio Review

“Pet Sematary” contains a demo-worthy Dolby Atmos soundtrack that’s sure to impress all viewers of this 4K. 

One of the best aspects of this object-based design is how nuanced and subtle it is, supplying ambient effects while reserving the louder noises for some scary moments.

Special Features

The bonus material is only available on the accompanying Blu-ray disc.

Beyond the Deadfall (HD): A set of four featurettes looking into various aspects of the production, such as adapting the original novel for contemporary audiences, the production design and shooting locations, the casting and characters, and interview discussions on the plot’s themes.

Chapter One: Resurrection (17 min)

Chapter Two: The Final Resting Place (13 min)

Chapter Three: The Road to Sorrow (14 min)

Chapter Four: Death Comes Home (18 min)

Alternate Ending (HD, 9 min)

Night Terrors (HD, 5 min)

The Tale of Timmy Baterman (HD, 3 min)

Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 17 min)

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