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Pet Sematary Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Stephen King shocker a grim, R-rated Goosebumps.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie plays on worst fears and grief over death, of both pets and children. Toddlers, animals, and adults get killed violently -- via murder, suicide, and a traffic accident. There is grotesque imagery in the contorted physiognomy of a victim of spinal meningitis; her illness makes her monstrous and vile, which some critics felt was over-the-line cruel. Kids may be tempted by the sequel, Pet Sematary 2; it's decidedly inferior and adds tacky nudity and tastelessness this one avoids.

  • Families can talk about the characters' motivations. Should a grieving person try to bring a loved one back, at any cost? A reading of the novel provides more discussion material on this. Does a horror movie format deal with this difficult topic effectively? Why or why not?

The good stuff
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    Messages: Most all the (living) characters here are decent people who think they're doing the right thing out of love. Nonetheless, their actions lead to slaughter and unleashed occult evil (the book was a lot better explaining their rationalizations for digging themselves in deeper and deeper). It's never directly explained why loved ones come back from the dead as vicious and murderous; the novel suggests that demons are possessing the corpses.

What to watch for
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    Violence: Bloody gashes and lacerations, ghastly head/face wounds on victims and zombies. Characters suffer cannibalistic attacks, being hit by cars, burning to death.

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    Sex: Just a reference to a cat spaying as "getting his nuts cut."

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    Language: The s-word, "hell," and SOB.

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    Consumerism: Car brand names. Of course, there's a Stephen King book tie-in, and the Ramones had a minor hit with the theme song.

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    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Smoking and beer-drinking among adults.