Warning – spoilers for Pet Sematary (the book and movies) ahead.
Beyond the ghastly sight of a zombified girl (and her cat), there are some serious fears involved in the 2019 adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary.
Sure, the idea of cursed grounds calling out to grieving individuals like the devil on one’s shoulder is scary. However, this fantasy is rooted in a fear most people know about – loss.
What would a person do to bring back their loved one? To what lengths would they go to cheat the reaper, and get more time beyond what the circle of life has allowed? Perhaps, most importantly, what price would there be to pay for such a move?
All these questions are rooted as deep in the story as the mystical power is rooted in the cursed grounds. The woman who played the mother, Rachel Creed, has opened up about her take on the story. Amy Seimetz says the nature of our impermanence is a concept people avoid talking about – for obvious reasons.
She said, “We just all avoid the conversation of death, in order to function. If we were just talking about death all the time, there wouldn’t be buildings, there wouldn’t be bridges, I mean, we wouldn’t do anything. We’d be like, ‘This is futile.’ It’s just such a big concept.”
She also discussed how hard it was to tell kids about the darker parts of life – while also acknowledging they were going out find out eventually, especially with the advent of the internet.
Seimetz’s character in the film moves to a rural area with her husband and two children, only to discover the dark power of a burial ground deep in the woods. After Rachel Creed’s daughter, Ellie, is killed by a speeding truck, her husband caves into his desperation and decides to bring her back using the ghoulish grasp of the cursed ground.
This was a change from the original story, which saw the younger Gage be the one killed and brought back. While some fans have protested the change, it works in a way. Maybe seeing an undead toddler shuffling around is a little creepier in some ways, but the new take has its own appeal. Ellie is older, more vocal, and thus more relatable.
Rachel also has a more relatable role – a person devoured by the grief of loss and blame. In the original story, Rachel’s sister Zelda died from complications related to spinal meningitis. In the remake, Zelda perished when she fell down a faulty dumbwaiter trying to retrieve food sent up by her sister, who was too scared to bring it up personally.
Rachel was advised by her parents not to use the device, but did so anyway. It makes the story of her sister’s death much more haunting and allows the guilt she feels to be better understood.
Seimetz shined in her role as a mother trying to do right by her family in a terrible situation – though the Creed mother suffered the same fate as she did in the original.