I didn’t actually read a lot of Stephen King books growing up as a kid. Not that I don’t love a good horror story or thriller, in fact I very much do. But his stories were always just a tad too scary for me at times. I sat out to read more than one on multiple occasions but I always seemed to get turned off.
Pet Semetary is the exception. I read the entire book front to back despite it giving me chills every page I turned. My 3rd grade heart was racing from the moment I checked it out from the school library. Sure you could make a case I was probably a touch too young to be reading his works but let’s not go down that line of thinking.
The book itself terrified me but in a good way. It was the first book of his I ever finished. Okay, you got me, it is the ONLY book of his I have ever finished. Master of terror is right. Okay, walk it back I did finish Misery despite hating the movie. I think the book just sucked me in whereas the film was kinda boring. I digress let’s get to it.
The first movie was a frightening flick for sure. It gave me nightmares. If you know anything about me at all its movies never give me nightmares. This was one of two films to do so. I’ll save the other for another day. It’s a good one too.
Needless to say the book and the film didn’t exactly align perfectly. They were each terrifying in their own right but the book was far more so than the movie, if you can believe it. So my love for both held me back from even wanting to watch the remake. Not that I am against remakes. In fact I am probably one of the tropes staunchest defenders. In this case it was a matter of not wanting to taint the memories I had of a film that shocked me to my core. It was, after all, such a tremendous influence on my life.
The remake on the other hand. Where do I begin?
I will start at the ending and work my way backwards. I think that is fair for this film.
The movie ends in a far more definitive and gruesome manner in which the original film did. Since the words on the pages of the novel are so far removed from my memory I will refrain from comparing either to the source material in this instance. Not that I don’t plan on revisiting it in the future but I don’t trust my faulty memories enough to be truly accurate here.
I actually liked this ending better than the first movie. Not only was it more definitive, since it left no ambiguity on the entirety of the family, but it also was more chilling imagery in that scene as the corpses all creep their way towards the infant in the car. Fantastic. I loved it.
The first criticism I see lobbed at it by reviewers online is the notion they killed the wrong kid. I wholeheartedly disagree. Not only was that moment the point where you knew for sure this movie would not be as predictable as one might fear. It goes beyond that. It subverts the audiences expectations. It tugs at your heart in a different way than the innocent baby. The daughter in the first movie was kind of bossy but this character you had real sympathy for. The whole time I watched the original I kept thinking someone needs to discipline that child somehow asap.
The reaction of the mother is more powerful here too. In the original film she embraces her murderous zombie son without a clue as to his true intent. In this movie it’s different. The mother is caught off guard in an entirely different way. Here she is confronted with her daughter actively trying to kill her. And the way the scene plays out makes this movie so much more memorable than the lame ending, no offense, of the first film.
One change that was absolutely welcome was the way this movie relied less on flash backs. Yes there were some very important flashbacks in the book. But I never cared for them being in the movie. I always fast forward those scenes anyways. I felt they dragged the movie down. Not so much the book thankfully from what I remember but certainly the film. Not the case with the remake. They cut the fat out of this picture and gave us a leaner, more impactful and darker movie. Darker in most ways.
The areas this movie fail compared to both the original and the book are in the ghost scenes. As in they are barely there and they are more fan service than useful to the plot of the picture. In fact I kind of felt like in this movie the ghost presence was downplayed to the point the ending of the movie makes less sense. So yes a strike there.
But, the atmosphere of the woods is far creepier than the original so that balances things out. Also, as someone who’s been viciously attacked by dogs more than once, I was glad they removed that filthy mutt scene from the movie.
The one cut I do wish had been retained is the sub-plot of the neighbor who kills herself. It really helped hit home the theme of the movie.
Overall I have to say I enjoyed it for what it was. I think there is absolutely room for both takes to exist. I have seen remakes done in a way that disrespect the source material. I do not believe that is the case here.