Critic Reviews



Based on 12 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Gwynne is the anchoring presence as a classically dry, laconic New Englander who seems to know some terrible secret. Elliot Goldenthal has composed a helpfully ominous score, as moody as vintage Bernard Herrmann, and Peter Stein's cinematography is superbly varied, from the bright hues of a glossy magazine to the dark shadows of the charnel house. No question about it, Pet Sematary is a handsomely produced film.
Chicago Tribune
There is a crazed, dark poetry here, but Mary Lambert's direction of Pet Sematary captures none of it, and the film falls into a flat, frequently laughable literalism. [24 Apr 1989, p.C2]
Miami Herald
As time goes on, and more King comes to the screen, The Shining, once widely disparaged, looks better and better. At least that film translated some of King's terror; subsequent adaptations, Pet Sematary included, do little more than animate the gore. [24 Apr 1989, p.C6]
The movie fails mostly because it doesn't trust the audience to do any of the work. What the dialogue doesn't carefully explain or predict is explained or predicted by ominous music and special effects. The movie seems to be playing to itself.
Time Out London
No film about a scalpel-wielding three-year-old psycho zombie could be entirely devoid of shocks. But reams of tedious exposition, about a children's pet 'sematary' and the magical resurrecting properties of an Indian burial ground, stretch patience and credulity to their limits, while Lambert fails to exploit the potential of the novel's best set pieces.
Boston Globe
Part of the reason Pet Sematary is so pedestrian is that its leads - Dale Midkiff and Denise Crosby - are uncharismatic. And director Mary Lambert, of Siesta and music video fame, doesn't know how to build and pace her material. [21 Apr 1989, p.46]
Pet Sematary marks the first time Stephen King has adapted his own book for the screen, and the result is undead schlock dulled by a slasher-film mentality – squandering its chilling and fertile source material.
With the exception of Carrie and The Shining, the novels of Stephen King have not made the transition to film particularly well, so it should be little surprise that Pet Sematary is another DOA -- Dog on Arrival.
While the King source material forcefully taps into some deep-seated fears, PET SEMATARY (which was to have been directed by George Romero) squanders its potential through the ham-handed direction of Mary Lambert (SIESTA), who continually goes for visceral shocks at the expense of the more deeply disturbing psychological themes inherent in the material.
One of the problems is that King usually writes about cliche subjects so well that you don’t notice the hackneyed aspects of his books, and so when all the character detail, precise backgrounding and elaborate plot setting-up mechanisms are pruned away, all you get is a dumb TV movie with characters doing insanely stupid things to prolong the agony.

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