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This remake of the classic Stephen King supernatural horror ends up being a shade above genre norms – but only just.

That’s sad because it hints at being so much more, before getting buried within the usual horror tropes – despite digging up a nice twist ending.

Louis Creed (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Jason Clarke), his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), and their two children Ellie (Jete Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie), have moved away from the hustle and bustle of Boston, to a small town rural house in Maine.

But unbeknown to them, their plot includes an eerie pet cemetery (incorrectly signed ‘pet sematary’ – hence the name of film) located in a wooded area behind their house.

Strange things start occurring intermittently – like Louis seeing dead people and Rachel getting flashbacks of her deceased sister – but it’s not until the family’s cat (and Ellie’s love) Church (named after Winston Churchill) gets killed by a truck that things start to take a sinister turn for the worst.

The Creed’s strangely nomadic neighbour Jud (Shrek’s John Lithgow) – who’s quietly befriended the family and formed a bond with Ellie – offers to help Louis bury the cat, but instead of doing it directly in the ‘Pet Sematary’ says they should go further afield to a mythical area with strange soil.

It turns out these lands had Indian heritage, and soon Church turns up on the family’s porch seemingly alive and well – just with a dishevelled look.

But soon it comes to fruition that the cat definitely isn’t the same and carries some dark presence, which tests the family to the full and leads to tragic events that would lead to spoilers here.

But suffice to say, as the movie tagline goes: ‘sometimes dead is better’.

And for the most part it generally hits the spot – with its share of jumps and scares – but never really expands on King’s lore to satisfyingly develop the story with the bleak material at hand – which leads to ‘plot holes’ and a rather rushed feel by the end.

Which makes this a perfectly serviceable Saturday night popcorn cruncher – but it could have been so much more.

ESP Rating: 3/5

Gavin Miller

Cast: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence, Amy Seimetz, Hugo & Lucas Lavoie, Obssa Ahmed & Alyssa Levine

Running Time: 1 Hr 41 Mins

Directors: Kevin Kolsch & Dennis Widmyer

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