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Pet Semetary

Film adaptations of Stephen King novels have been mixed. For every ‘Carrie’ and ‘Stand by Me’, there’s a ‘Sleepwalkers’ and ‘The Mist’. The inconsistency of King’s big-screen works have earned cautious audiences. A remake of the 1989 film based on his book, ‘Pet Semetary’ doesn’t join the pantheon of cinematic disgraces. A worthy outing bearing the Stephen King name, it proves with a bit of effort, adapting his stories shouldn’t be its own horror show.

Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) and his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) move to the country with their children for a fresh start. Looking forward to new beginnings, their hope turns to despair when tragedy strikes. Discovering a strange burial ground in the woods near his home, Creed turns to peculiar neighbour Jud (John Lithgow) for guidance. A cataclysmic chain of events ensue when the wood’s latent evil soon arising to unleash its own brand of hell.

Creepy and foreboding, ‘Pet Semetary’ is streets ahead of its 1989 forebear. Mainly due to a more authentic feel and less focus on gore, it effectively expresses its story of grief and loss. Several Stephen King movies have been known for dealing with dark psyches instead of grisly occurrences with ‘Pet Semetary’ one of them. Creed’s reaction to family tragedy feels genuine with Clarke and Seimetz turning in strong performances. If you believe in their plight then the rest of the fanciful nonsense seems more terrifying.

Being a horror movie, ‘Pet Semetary’ has an abundance of scares. Although occasionally relying on ‘jump scares’ style shocks, it generally has leans more towards tense atmospherics. The new twists given to the story keeps you on your toes with an ending brave in its audacity but making overall sense. The cinematography and score go a long way in crafting the film’s unique look with a run-time just right for this type of movie.

This decade have seen better works translated from King’s novels. ‘Pet Semetary’ can be added to this list. Its haunting visuals and performances should stay with you long after the credits roll. For a man who has delighted in chilling people’s bones with terrible tales, Stephen King should be happy once again one of his movies doesn’t scare fans away.

Rating out of 10: 7

Us

‘Us’ is the latest film written and directed by Jordan Peele. Making a name for himself with the 2017 thriller ‘Get Out’, Peele understands the mechanics of jangling nerves. ‘Us’ should have several on tenterhooks with its visceral horrifics something out of ‘The Twilight Zone’ TV series. Those who enjoy being scared should be pleased with others cautioned about the spooky delights on display.

Gabe (Winston Duke) and Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) are a married couple who take their children to a holiday beach house. Hoping for a tranquil time away, their idle is disrupted when a group of sinister strangers arrive. Looking exactly like them and referring themselves as ‘The Tethered’, their presence threatens their lives. Unending peril and terror looms unless the family finds a way to crawl out from under the wicked interloper’s clutches.

Like any good horror movie, ‘Us’ works on several levels. It can be seen as an allegory on the endless ‘us vs. them’ debate with the have and have nots battling against each other for supremacy. Or ‘Us’ can be taken as a straight up thrill-ride with plenty of scary scenes to keep viewers on edge. As with ‘Get Out’, Peele injects a healthy dose of satirical humour amongst the spooks which never takes away from the film’s power.

‘Us’ also subverts what one expects from a horror movie. It isn’t a constant blood-bath like so many, but plays on audience expectations of said carnage. Less is always definitely more with ‘Us’ thriving on its minimalistic blood-shed to deliver messages and thrills. The cast all do a fine job in conveying their character’s angst with the foreboding atmosphere kept until the conclusion’s unexpected sting.

Peele shows much talent in the thriller/horror genre dragging it out of its gory ghetto. Hopefully more in this style will surface to bring in more fans. In the meantime those wanting a smartly written fright-fest should find much to ghoulishly enjoy as things go bump in the night.

Rating out of 10: 7