Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary


The Dove Take:

New version of Stephen King’s story gorily portrays the damage of a man seeking to fix brokenness with a broken “solution.” As Christians, how should we approach a film like this, especially when it’s associated with one of America’s most popular modern authors?

Dove Review

The Synopsis:

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife Rachel relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

The Review:

Louis Creed doesn’t believe in the afterlife. He’s focused on the present, which may be why he and his family have moved. Less stress at his job. Less financial expense. More time with his wife Rachel, daughter Ellie, and son Gage. There also happens to be a lot of property. Acres of forest, including a “Pet Sematary” (as the sign says). And there’s that horrible place behind it. If you bury something there, it’ll apparently return, but it won’t be the same. Like the Creed family’s sweet cat. It had passed away. But after a quick burial in that place, it seems to be back. Now it’s vicious and nasty. But it seems to be back.

There’s an accident. Kind and loving Ellie passes away. And then Louis buries her and …

You can guess. “Ellie” returns, but evil.

Pet Sematary could be interpreted as a man trying to fix brokenness with a broken solution. (Louis tries to fix death with something that causes more death.) We see this idea daily. It can be present in our lives. People may seek to solve brokenness (or feel “better”) through sin, or well-intentioned, broken “solutions.” It’s tragic. While Pet Sematary is not a positive film nor Dove-approved, it illustrates a truth: Broken solutions do not fix brokenness well.

Scary films can compel the audience to talk to the characters, like “Run!” But when Louis Creed says, “Let God take His own … kid,” one may feel compelled to quote John 3:16-17. Louis’s line is wrong, unfortunately uninformed, and misses the love of the Gospel. The Gospel is the news everyone needs for brokenness.

What does all this add up to? Pet Sematary is not Dove-recommended. Not at all. It’s dark, violent and gory. It’s also popular. The theater where I saw the film was one of the fullest regular showings I’ve been to as a reviewer. So, as Christians, we could disregard the film. We could disregard that it’ll make millions of dollars. We could disregard Stephen King as one of the most popular authors of our era. We could disregard the audiences, calling them bloodthirsty viewers. And we could choose to disregard, and disengage from, the conversation.

But these might be flawed “solutions” to the situation. Instead, we could recognize that this film is popular and that it may portray a tragic principle (without even having to watch it). As followers of Jesus Christ, how best should we remain educated and engaged regarding art and stories that impact culture, without compromising our relationship with God, and what we believe? This question is significant. This question, like so many others, is challenging. But I’m confident in the One Who has the perfect solutions.

Content Description

Faith: Though more visual than focused on faith, many crosses, and a crucifix, are seen.
Integrity: Characters can be loving; a man seeks to be able to have more time that he may spend more time with his family.
Sex: A couple is romantic, kissing and hugging; couple in bed together; a couple makes out on a bed.
Language: Jesus Christ’s name (including variations and abreviations) -3; GD-4; OMG/G-2; “Thank G”; D-3; H-3; F-6; B-1; S-5
Violence: Violence, blood, gore, and disturbing contortions; some of the violence is from a young girl (after her burial); a young girl dies in an accident; a man is “hit by a car” (which we don’t see), and we see graphically his injuries, including close-ups of tissue and more (a woman comments that she can see his brain); it’s implied that a toddler is murdered; stabs; impalement; dead animals are seen, including with gore/blood; a woman has an affliction that contorts and deforms her body; a man is going to put a cat down with a syringe; guns are seen; a cat eats a bird that is still alive.
Drugs: A man puts drugs in another man’s drink; drinking; smoking
Nudity: A woman wears clothes that are somewhat revealing and makes out with her husband; a woman wears short shorts; a woman wears a low-cut nightgown; a young girl takes a bath, and her bare shoulders and knee are seen.
Other: Conversation about “people looking down,” meaning from Heaven, and also “watching from Heaven”; a man says that he does not believe in the afterlife or Heaven; conversation that includes talking about how someone thinks that a pet’s soul goes to Heaven, and a man saying that they aren’t sure; jumpscares; scary, dark, disturbing, and horrifying things; themes of guilt; dark spirituality, including discussion and an illustration of a dark entity and the name it is referred to; lines include characters saying “burning down in H”, “now we’re suffering eternally,” “you prayed your sister would die,” and “it’s not Heaven. You’re going there soon”; a (apparently) ghost; lyrics in a song are negative/dark; a burial process is like a ritual; visions that are scary; scary and creepy sounds, including whispering; lying; mean, hateful talking; amidst Halloween, a girl is dressed as a witch, and there is a ghost costume.


Company: Unknown
Writer: Stephen King (novel), Matt Greenberg , Jeff Buhler
Genre: Horror
Runtime: 101 min.
Reviewer: John P.