After a busy year as a doctor in Boston, Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) takes a job in a sleepy town in Maine, planning to be home for family dinners and to tuck in his kids at night.
In the back of their home is a pet sematary, created by the children of the town (hence the misspelling). Mother and wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) finds the burial grounds creepy, but daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) is fascinated.
The Creeds befriend their closest neighbor, Jud, a lonely old man (John Lithgow) who has lived in the woods all his life.
When Ellie’s cat Church dies, Jud leads Louis deep into the pet sematary. There, in a misty burial ground, Jud has Louis bury the cat.
The next morning, Church is back, sleeping in Ellie’s bedroom as if nothing happened. However, the cat is violent with the family as if he isn’t their beloved cat at all.
Then, on her ninth birthday, Ellie is killed.
Crazed with grief, her father remembers the burial ground. Can he perform another resurrection?
Based on one of Stephen King’s bleakest novels, Pet Sematary is a fun horror flick. Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (Starry Eyes) take their time with the setup, exploring the family dynamic and layering in eerie tidbits of town history. This traditional take on the horror genre pays off with some great scares and lots of building tension. They also layer plenty of humor in to give us a break from the bleak story.
Best of all are Lithgow, Laurence and Seimetz.
Pet Sematary’s only flaw is its pacing, a little uneven throughout and completely bonkers in the last act. But if you lean into the nutty plot developments, you get one heck of a ride.
Good Horror • R • 101 mins.
~~~ New this Week ~~~
Tessa (Josephine Langford) has lived a sheltered life as a good student and doting daughter. Then at college she meets mysterious Hardin Scott (Hero Fiennes Tiffin).
Their passionate, obsessive relationship will leave Tessa forever changed.
Based on a best-selling romance, After has all the elements of a bodice-ripper: Pretty people, a slightly ridiculous story and dialogue so creaky it could use a good oiling. Still, there is a bit of fun to be had in this schlocky romance.
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 120 mins.
Hellboy (David Harbour) is a half-demon tasked with saving the world. He’s pretty good at knocking the snot out of ghouls and demons that threaten humanity. When an ancient sorceress called The Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) tries to take over the world, Hellboy is oddly conflicted.
Based on the popular graphic novels, Hellboy should be a supernatural thrill ride of scares and laughs. Harbour makes for an excellent half-demon wise-cracker, but the story (and the effects) seem to have been shortchanged. The dialogue isn’t nearly as snappy as it should be, and the creatures don’t look as terrifying as they should. The charm of the lead character may be Hellboy’s saving grace.
Prospects: Flickering • R • 120 mins.
Jordan Sanders (Regina Hall) isn’t satisfied by her high-power job, gorgeous clothes and tons of money. Constantly stressed, she’s horrible to her beleaguered assistant April (Issa Rae). While she’s on a rampage, a curse turns her into a younger version of herself (Marsai Martin). Can she turn herself back into a nicer adult?
This film makes Marsai Martin cinema’s youngest executive producer. Beyond the historic step for young girls everywhere, Little looks like a breezy comedy filled with slapstick humor and wisecracks. Think of it as the feminist version of Big.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 109 mins.
Mr. Link (Zach Galifianakis) is a misfit. At eight feet tall and fur-covered, he stands out. Tired of his lonely life in the Pacific Northwest, he writes to explorer Lionel Frost (Hugh Jackman).
The pair journey to find Link’s people, who are rumored to live in the legendary Shangri-La Valley. Can Frost deliver Link to his long-lost relatives? Or is he the only surviving member of his species?
Laika Studios is building a reputation for producing funny, heartwarming films with a unique visual style. This promises to be another winning entry.
Prospects: Bright • PG • 95 mins.