Pet Sematary: an audio and visual horror nightmare come true

Pet Sematary by Stephen King is an excellent book, audio book and film. Having first read it years ago, re-reading on audible and watching the new 2019 movie has been an excellent experience. I really enjoyed both; it is atmospheric, creepy and jumpy as hell. I thought that the audible narrator was incredible, and the actors in the film very well chosen. I will say that the film seemed to miss bits of the story which could make people miss the point.

The story
Louis and his family have moved to a new town in Maine, near Derry (of course). They realise that their house is part of a huge amount of land, encompassing the local ‘Pet Sematary’, a graveyard for local pets. This revelation makes their daughter, Ellie start to question life and death and what it all means, especially for pets. Neighbour, Judd introduces Louis to the ‘mick mack burial ground’ which may have certain powers. But what is the truth behind the power?

Why this is a great book
This book is brilliant, classic, and yet unique King. Nobody could re-write this, proven by how similar the movie is, because it is a seriously unique exploration of death and what happens when you die. I really liked the central message that death is okay and can be a good thing. Sometimes, dead is better. It is certainly an important message to teach children (in a less horrific way), which they often learn from pets and grandparents getting sick and dying. This takes that message to the next level.
The characters are just brilliant. Judd is that typical southern man who has lived and loved the country his whole life. He has a very good perspective on the world and really tries to help Louis understand what’s going on and not to get sucked in by the allure of resurrection. The entire family unit all have their individual personalities and I really liked Rachel, who’s inability to look death in the eye because of her traumatic childhood made the message much stronger.

As for the movie, it was good. It was eerie and very atmospheric. Because this is such a unique story, you can watch this movie and you’ll never see something similar again. However, I do feel that they missed parts of Louis’ personality, and much of his friendship with Judd. Louis has a very big moral dilemma with the events of the Mick Mack burial ground in the book which didn’t come across in the movie. I was almost rooting for his demise in the film because of his lack of warmth to the situation.

Overall, I would recommend the audio book first and foremost. It is genuinely a 5* book, while the movie is probably 4*. I’m very jumpy so it was quite scary for me, and this is a book written to be read aloud or seen on film. I would recommend this to people who love Stephen King, horror films generally and ghost stories. I’m actually quite sad that I can’t go back and read this for the first time again.

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