The new adaptation of Stephen King's classic Pet Sematary turned a lot of heads with its premiere at SXSW this month. The initial reactions marked it as a successful update and adaptation of the author's story, more like the recent It: Chapter One and less like The Dark Tower.
While the filmmakers made some choices to change some part of King's story, there is still plenty of the original "undead" in this adaptation. It also features plenty of nods to other works by King, something that should give fans plenty to pick through when it is released to close out March.
Directors Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsh spoke with SyFy Wire about Pet Sematary and how they aimed to get the film's tone close to the book. Fans of their earlier work like Starry Eyes could assume that this task wouldn't be too much of a challenge, but there were still hurdles to climb apparently.
One thing they make clear in the interview, they were not out to remake the original movie. They were re-adapting or re-interpreting the book. In fact, neither Jason Clarke or John Lithgow had seen the original movie before arriving on set.
"The book is all in Louis' head. People forget that. In the book, it's like, 'In two months Gage would be dead,'" Widmyer tells SyFy Wire. "You're living in a world of this impending doom that's coming."
The way the books handles the story is also why the pair spoiled a major plot element in the trailer -- Ellie being hit by the truck and the funeral that follows.
"Stephen King wrote this because he asked himself what is the most horrifying thing? Losing a child," Kölsh says in the interview. "The book is not just, 'Okay, here's the scene where he loses his child.' The whole thing is him dealing with it."
Despite the changes made to the general story, the feel of the novel is intact. So are the references to King's other works. It wouldn't be a Stephen King movie without Easter eggs for fans to point out. Kolsh and Widmyer did their best to make their references in the films fit in with the world they were creating in the film.
"Here's the thing. With Easter eggs, you don't want to be too cute with them, but the thing we remind people of all the time is exactly what you just said, that Stephen King does them himself," Widmyer explains in the interview. "We embraced that, but set rules on it."
The pair give away a few Easter eggs in the interview. Rachel, played by Amy Seimetz, heads up I-95 from Boston and passes a sign for Derry -- the town featured in Stephen King's It. They do admit the town was originally meant to be Jerusalem's Lot, but Hulu's Castle Rock used it before they could. There is also a map belonging to Jud, played by Lithgow, with the names of the towns featured and a bit of conversation at one point about Cujo, the rabid St. Bernard from the book of the same name.
They tease more Easter eggs hidden throughout, so fans will need to be eagle-eyed once the film is released.
The film will be the fifth major adaptation of a Stephen King work since 2017, including The Dark Tower and It: Chapter One. Several TV productions have also sprouted since then, including a failed adaptation of The Mist, Mr. Mercedes, Castle Rock, and 11.22.63 starring James Franco.0comments
Following Pet Sematary, fans of King will have plenty to look forward to. Not only is his classic The Stand returning as a limited series on CBS All Access, the second chapter of It will also hit theaters later in 2019 alongside The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep.
Pet Sematary stars Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, and John Lithgow. It will hit theaters on April 5.