WARNING: Major spoilers for Pet Sematary
Apart from altering Stephen King's original ending, the latest adaptation of Pet Sematary also increases the body count and resurrects some unexpected characters in the titular cursed graveyard. Even the major spoiler that was revealed in the trailers didn't ruin certain creative liberties taken in the film's final act.
Based on Stephen King's 1983 novel of the same name, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer's Pet Sematary follows Louis and Rachel Creed (Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz, respectively) as they move their family of four from the busy city life of Boston to the slow (and later discovered, supernatural) small town life of Ludlow, Maine. Following a sudden tragedy, their neighbor Jud (John Lithgow) let's Louis in on a little secret: the land they bought is cursed, and the root of the curse is in a cemetery deep in the woods that brings the dead back to life. Unfortunately, this knowledge ends up being a curse itself when Louis attempts to use the cemetery's powers to his advantage, only to pave the way for irreversible horror.
Related: What To Expect From A Pet Sematary 2
While it's hardly unprecedented for adaptations to take some creative liberties with the source material - especially when it comes to adapting one of King's behemoth novels into a single film - this version of Pet Sematary makes one major change to the story that ends up rewiring the entire third act. That said, whether or not it lives up to the original, or even improves upon it, the 2019 Pet Sematary ending introduces some new elements to King's story that are worth exploring.
- This Page: Wendigo Spirit Explained & How The Resurrections Are Different
- Page 2: What Happens In Pet Sematary's Ending & What Changed From The Original
The Wendigo Spirit Explained
One significant element in King's Pet Sematary novel that isn't present in Mary Lambert's original 1989 adaptation is the Wendigo. A demon derived from Algonquin folklore, this creature is essentially the patron saint of misery and death, typically linked to things like famine, cannibalism, and murder - which would explain King's decision to make it a staple figure in Pet Sematary. In the novel, the Wendigo's roots run deep in Ludlow, to way back when the land was inhabited by Native Americans. It discovered a patch of land known as the Micmac Burial Ground and cursed it, ultimately scaring away the residents once they discovered its dark, supernatural power. Only, when the original settlers left, the Wendigo stayed, and the rest is history.
In the 2019 Pet Sematary movie, the Wendigo is mentioned but almost in passing. Louis gets his first glimpse of it when Jud shows him a book detailing the town's seedy history, and they later hear it making some unnatural sounds in the woods. In the film, it's more of a presence than a physical being - though Louis does catch some shadowy glimpse of it when he's making his way to the burial ground - and its influence on the characters is what motivates their sudden string of tragedy.
There are other supernatural forces at play in the Pet Sematary film, like the ghost of Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed) warning the Creeds to stay away from the Pet Sematary, but the Wendigo is pulling the strings. It's the force that draws Louis into the woods - that conjures up all of Rachel's darkest memories - that makes death such a magnet to anyone living on its land. In short, the Pet Sematary would never exist with the Wendigo.
How The Resurrected Are Different
For a movie that revolves around death, the body count isn't especially high in Pet Sematary - especially compared to other horror films whose crux is bringing the dead back to life. That said, it's still grim business all around, and this latest adaptation introduces an updated death toll that is arguably darker than its predecessor - in terms of its central characters at least. Considering that Pet Sematary's cursed burial ground dates back centuries, there have been plenty of reanimated corpses who can thank the Wendigo's soured soil for bringing them back to life. That said, the characters who die in this latest film and are later resurrected differ slightly from the source material - and the biggest difference was actually spoiled in Pet Sematary's trailers.
In both the novel and the latest adaptation, the Creed family's pet cat Church is the first to get buried, and ultimately resurrected, in the cemetery. This gets the ball rolling for the ensuing tragedy, and it's up until this point that the adaptation sticks closely to King's original story. It's the first human character who's buried in the Pet Sematary that serves as the biggest change: Ellie Creed (Jeté Laurence). In the book, Ellie's younger brother Gage (played in the film by twins Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) is killed, thus sending Louis into an emotional deep end that ultimately destroys his entire family. In this adaptation, Ellie is the unfortunate first victim, and the change wasn't just done to shake things up, but to add a more emotionally damaging element to the story. When Gage is resurrected, he's too young to comprehend what's happening; Ellie, on the other hand, was just starting to understand the true meaning and weight of death shortly before she was killed.
The final two resurrections belong to Rachel and Louis. In the original Pet Sematary, Louis' death is implied after Rachel's reanimated corpse returns from the Pet Sematary, but never shown. In this version of Pet Sematary, though the audience never sees Louis buried, his resurrected self returns home with his wife and daughter.
- Pet Sematary (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019