From the Chekov’s Gun of the tanker trailer barreling past the Creed’s home, to the horrified realization on Louis Creed’s face as he finds his feet covered in graveyard dirt, to the “brought back” family cat, Church, who’s a (pardon the expression) dead-wringer for the cat pictured on the original paperback, this latest version of Pet Semetary is a big love letter to Stephen King’s 1983 novel.
John Lithgow steps into the role of Jud Crandall (played impeccably by Fred Gwynne in the original 1989 adaptation). His kindly, cautious narration walks us through scenes of increasing terror: children in masks playing funeral dirges on toy drums, blood soaked scalpels gleaming on white trays, mud-caked footprints leading towards the Creed homestead, fingers with filthy, broken fingernails, as if whoever they belong to had dug themselves out of their own grave, clawing their way in through an open window.
The trailer was enough to get the hairs on the back of my neck standing up, just like they did when I read the book for the first time back in ’88. Pet Semetary was my first Stephen King novel and it still haunts me for good reason. The memories just won’t die.
But sometimes, dead is better.