Pet Semetary (2019) 4K UHD Review


Let God Take His Own Kid

The key scene in this Pet Semetary remake is when the parents, played by Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz, discuss death with their nine-year old daughter. Clark and Seimetz see death in different lights – Clarke sees life as finite, Seimetz as eternal.

For Seimetz, belief is a way of dealing with childhood tragedy: the death of her sister. Letting guilt simmer is asking for greater tragedy. That’s the Pet Semetary theme – grief (in all stages). The horror allegory visualizes what happens when it’s allowed to linger. It’s true of Stephen King’s novel, the original film adaptation, and this better-than-the-original remake.

Pacing matters. Pet Semetary pushes ahead with proper caution. It’s building, lingering on a foreboding tale of empathy gone wrong. The release is when grief and empathy collide, neither in morally acceptable terms. Pet Semetary becomes a creepy kid thriller, but an evocative one charged not by gore (although it’s fond of blood) but theme. This undead kid becomes possessed by an unwillingness to accept the finality of life.

Pet Semetary becomes a creepy kid thriller, but an evocative one charged not by gore but theme

Pet Semetary 2019 has issues. It’s decidedly familiar modern horror, too glossy and too jump scare-prone. All those trucks passing by the residence always do so at opportune moments. The pluses though include no longer exuding the feel of a TV movie, paired with believable and emotional performances, carrying the story through to an especially grisly end.

It’s harsher and more sinister now. Selective use of fog helps too. Mood is driven by sharply drawn lighting schemes. Indian burial grounds, the catalyst, play like an outmoded trope, if helped by Pet Semetary’s dialog suggesting the cause is spoiled ground – spoiled by settlers and those who claim ownership from native people. That’s another layer, if cast aside in exposition.

Key is that Pet Semetary never feels rushed. Emotional beats and horror balance, with splendidly morbid visuals stitching pieces together. The inherent spookiness of King’s idea – a family running from the gruesome reality of their past by seeking an isolated home – comes out elegantly in this script.

Eventually, some want to return home. Seimetz pleads with her husband prior to the third act. She’s ready to face and accept past events; the daughter (Jete Laurence) wants reassurance too. They don’t go back of course, setting fate in motion and allowing Pet Semetary to release the basics of contemporary studio horror. The new Pet Semetary toys with expectations set in stone by the first film (a knife won’t strike when it did previously), a nostalgia ploy used to intelligently keep comfort out of reach. And comfort isn’t part of Pet Semetary’s vocabulary.

Video

Note: A review of the original Pet Semetary’s 4K UHD is available via our Patreon

While dealing with occasional bouts of noise, the digital cinematography displays otherwise vivid clarity. A 2K finish limits overall detail, yet presents a scenic beauty. Farmland covers substantial screen time, resolved gorgeously with resolute texture. Exteriors of homes bring out the wooden barns and cracking paint even at distance. The cemetery itself offers legible headstones or grave markers whether in close or afar.

In close, Pet Semetary’s 4K presentation is much the same. Facial texture rules all, and shots of the cat handle thick fur with high resolution. Practical make-up is captured with lurid perfection.

Mood setters matter more. Contrast livens during the day, with exceptionally deep black levels at night. Pure black is preserved and attained regularly. Those shadows weigh heavy, without loss to detail. Scene-to-scene, the Dolby Vision pass stretches range with appreciable results.

Fighting against fog and some hazy green screen compositing, Paramount’s encode bats away banding. Color is then allowed to bloom, sedate (but dense) earth tones carrying much of the film. Later, blues and teals take hold, creating the chill necessary to fit the mood.

Audio

A load of fun, the Pet Semetary Atmos track is splendid and wild. Numerous scenes involve footsteps on upper floors when inside homes, those sounds directly overhead or behind as required. Ambiance continues outdoors, with various bird chirps slipping into directional speakers. As a horror film, various sounds or voices will split the fronts or rears, with potent separation to catch the needed scares.

If not bombastic, mixing is willing to utilize range to accentuate scares in a predictable way. Trucks barreling down the highway do so with a jolt, engine sounds hitting the subwoofer as they pass. Some door slamming effects heighten tension late. Good stuff.

Extras

An alternate ending is lengthy at nine minutes, with seven deleted scenes following. Three dream sequences for each of the main characters, and John Lithgow in character for storytime seem like deleted material too.

The meat of this disc (and only the Blu-ray since the UHD is empty) resides in Beyond the Deadfall. Running a hair over an hour, this sometimes soft, EPK-like production rundown does cover the totality of making Pet Semetary. Certainly, this is miles ahead of the usual studio-produced fluff on new releases.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Pet Semetary
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

The better of Pet Semetary’s two movie adaptations, the use of grief as a central theme empowers the eventual mainstream horror climax.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our Patreon-exclusive set of 43 full 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: