Pet Sematary

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
Pet Sematary Movie Poster Image
Book-based Stephen King horror tale is scary and violent.
  • R
  • 1989
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 48 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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).


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


Reference to a cat spaying as "getting his nuts cut."


"S--t," "hell," and SOB.


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

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking and beer-drinking among adults.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pet Sematary 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. Bloody gashes and lacerations, ghastly head/face wounds on victims and zombies. Characters suffer cannibalistic attacks, being hit by cars, burning to death. Profanity: "s--t," "son of a bitch." Smoking and beer-drinking among adults. Kids may be tempted by the sequel, Pet Sematary 2; it's decidedly inferior and adds tacky nudity and tastelessness this one avoids.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bynewmommy102103 August 9, 2019

Reviews were wrong about language!

We decided to watch Pet Sematary after it popped up free on the Roku Channel this week. My son is 13 and we always check here first. After reading the reviews... Continue reading
Adult Written byJamez Milamez June 6, 2021

One or two scary scenes is all

I watched this movie myself when I was 13 and when my son was 13 and the only real scary thing to be honest was just zelda. She is horrifying
Teen, 14 years old Written byeazy__breezy July 27, 2014


Last year, I spent my summer watching Stephen King films such as The Shining, The Mist, IT, Misery and this one, Pet Sematary. And I have to say, this one was t... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 1, 2021

This movie Is great but cheesy

Ever since I was little I wanted to see this movie and it is sad because of child violence but it is not to bad. This movie has some gross scenes yet is more sh... Continue reading

What's the story?

In PET SEMATARY, young doctor Louis Creed (Dale Midkiff) moves with his family to rural Maine, ominously near a dangerous, truck-traveled highway. After his daughter's beloved tomcat is killed in a hit-and-run, an elderly neighbor informs Louis of an incredible local secret. Hidden near the town's pet cemetery lies an ancient Indian burial ground with paranormal powers; the deadburied in its stony soil actually come back to life. Even with warnings from the ghost of one of his patients, Louis resurrects the cat -- but the once-friendly feline is hostile and menacing. Despite this disappointing result, another wrenching family tragedy leads the tormented Louis back to the burial ground. Again and again.

Is it any good?

This isn't the worst adaptation of a Stephen King book ever made, but considering how bad others are that isn't a compliment you'd want for your tombstone. Without the writer's sympathetic, explanatory prose filling in the back story and motivations (and Stephen King as a scriptwriter has never been as strong as Stephen King the novelist), the plotline plods from one rather cheap shock to another, some of them just arbitrary nastiness that have little to do with anything (like a sickly woman suddenly deciding to hang herself).

As a basic, icky, unvarnished scare show Pet Sematary renders some of the creepiness effectively in Halloween-spookhouse fashion. The angle about undead pets and kids has something of the Goosebumps vibe, and sex and nudity are absent. You can't say any of that about the vile sequel Pet Sematary 2, which carries over none of the characters from this feature, just the burial ground.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the characters' motivations in Pet Sematary. Should a grieving person try to bring a loved one back, at any cost? 

  • If you've read the book, which version of the story is better? Why?

  • What's the appeal of horror stories?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horror

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate