Expect the Stephen King Renaissance of 2017 to resurge with a vengeance in 2019 with IT: Chapter Two and a new remake of Pet Sematary already considered 2 of next year's most hotly-anticipated horror movies. The later has just wrapped filming outside of Montreal; the news was announced by Pet Sematary's assistant director Beau Ferris on Instagram and circulated by CinePhellas on Twitter, along with a photo of John Lithgow.
John Lithgow is playing Jud Crandall, a character made iconic by Fred Gwynne in Mary Lambert's 1989 adaptation of Pet Sematary. The gentle giant with a thick Maine accent became a reoccurring character South Park where his chilling missive, "Sometimes, dead is better", became part of the modern zeitgeist. It'll be interesting to see Lithgow's take on such a recognizable and often-imitated character. In the photo, Lithgow sports a full beard, something that instantly differentiates his iteration of Jud. And while Lithgow has the ability to duplicate Gwynne's inherent kindness and bumbling nervousness, we've also seen him go to some dark places, like in Dexter and Raising Cain. So, while it's hard to imagine the actor who played Herman Munster as truly intimidating, Lithgow has the chops to put a sinister sheen around this classic Stephen King character. Of course, it's all just conjecture at this point.
2019's Pet Sematary is directed by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, the filmmaking duo who reached the upper echelons of indie stardom following the release of Starry Eyes in 2014. While some of their fans are worried they're losing Kölsch and Widmyer to the Hollywood machinery (where they'll be forced to compromise their independent street cred}, I'm hoping these mavericks are exactly what the production needs for a truly arresting reimagining. While the duo has yet to submit to interviews, here's what Pet Sematary screenwriter Jeff Buhler told Dread Central's Sean Decker last May:
"When we first started our conversations, Dennis and Kevin and I really connected around the idea of bringing the story back to the source material, to find a modern telling of the book that really spoke to some of the big scenes and big moments that Stephen King had originally written, and as much as all of us are huge fans of the original film, there are moments that are larger than life and feel borderline campy. Our desire was to tell a really grounded, character driven and psychologically horrific version of Pet Sematary, which in my belief, is the scariest book that King ever wrote."
While the upcoming Pet Sematary has yet to drop an official synopsis, here's the gist of the novel:
When Dr. Louis Creed takes a new job and moves his family to the idyllic and rural town of Ludlow, Maine, this new beginning seems too good to be true. Yet despite Ludlow's tranquility, there's an undercurrent of danger that exists here. Those trucks on the road outside the Creed's beautiful old home travel by just a little too quickly, for one thing...as is evidenced by the makeshift pet cemetery out back in the nearby woods. Then there are the warnings to Louis both real and from the depths of his nightmares that he should not venture beyond the borders of this little graveyard. A blood-chilling truth is hidden there-one more terrifying than death itself, and hideously more powerful. An ominous fate befalls anyone who dares tamper with this forbidden place, as Louis is about to discover for himself.
In addition to Lithgow, 2019's Pet Sematary also stars Jason Clarke as Louis Creed and Amy Seimetz as his wife Rachel. Look for the film to unearth itself in US theaters beginning April 5th. Thanks to CinePhellas for the tip!