This Is Why We’re So Spooked By ‘Pet Sematary’

Stephen King isn’t recognized as a master of horror for nothing. Carrie ruled the 70’s, The Shining permeated everyone’s nightmares in the 80’s, It ruined the childhoods of every 90’s kid who thought they could handle a scary clown movie, and the 2000’s had Dreamcatcher, Secret Window, 1408, The Mist, as well as a collection of lowkey terrible (but well loved) Children of the Corn sequels. Every decade a new horror story is brought to life, ready to frighten a new generation. Pet Sematary, which hits theatres April 5th, will be that movie for our time.

Pet Sematary is the story of a couple who moves from Boston to rural Maine with their two children and pet cat. Their elderly neighbor, Jud Crandall shows them something unsettling beyond the “pet sematary” that borders their property: an ancient burial ground the town has tried to keep secret. It is known as a place that brings things back. When the family’s young daughter wanders out onto the highway and is killed, the temptation is too strong and they bury her in the same space with some horrifying results.

But wait, it gets creepier.

This story is about the temptation to bring a loved one back from death — even knowing they’ll be horribly changed — which is instantly horrifying. The film begs the question, “if you had the chance, would you bring someone back despite the consequences?” Not to mention the creep factor of a movie that centers around a little kid. Children will always represent innocence to us. A child coming back from death to become the villain of a movie is a horror that’s going to automatically lurk in the back of our minds when we’re somewhere dark and unfamiliar.

April’s Pet Sematary will be all about this fertile territory for nightmares. It makes the perfect horror movie date because it speaks to everything we fear. This family isn’t some random long ago family. This family could be us.

It’s not a coincidence that stories of bringing someone back from death, only to encounter them in a changed, malevolent way keep creeping up in our culture. We’re all afraid of death. We don’t know what comes next. And Pet Sematary warns us in no uncertain terms: whatever comes next might not be so great.

We don’t know what happens after the moment of death but those we bring back do. When they come back from their experience beyond life, they don’t come back the same. They come back evil. Whatever death has done to them has wholly changed them. As Jud Crandall warns, “Sometimes dead is better.”

About the author

Chrissy Stockton

If I could have any super power I would be able to talk to animals.