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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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
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).
Violence & Scariness
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, Romance & Nudity
Reference to a cat spaying as "getting his nuts cut."
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"S--t," "hell," and SOB.
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Products & Purchases
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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.