It is said that life’s joy is in its fleeting nature, giving meaning to the struggles and victories that accumulate in a person’s existence, however well lived. Although some have challenged this notion. Cheating death has become more than just a conceptual backdrop for our wildest fantasies, scientific endeavour has pushed forward with increasing the gap, with fantasy making up the rest. In 1992, some top talent managed to craft a sequel of the dangers of spitting in the face of the Grim Reaper, in Pet Sematary Two.
After witnessing his mother demise in a horrific accident, Jeff Matthews has trouble settling to his new home in Ludlow Maine, where his dad has opened a veterinary practice. He makes friends with Drew, whose stepdad, Gus is a mean piece of work, employed as the town’s sheriff. One day, Gus kills Drew dear dog Zowie, leading the boys to find the mysterious spot where the dead may come back to life. As the opportunities presented by this secret are countered with uncontrollable and murderous results, a new generation will soon have to learn that sometimes dead is better.
Being a new idea with new characters, Pet Sematary Two manages to use the concepts of the original as a jumping-off point, and as such, manages to explore the wider consequences of the cemetery. Yet Pet Sematary avoids being a rehash. With its focus on the teen drama, this ironically feels more like a Stephen King idea than the original Pet Sematary, despite King’s disownment of the work. With vicious bullies and a myriad of teenage problems in the heart of Maine being the calling cards of the master’s work. While the original was known for its effective effects work, Two is keen to follow. In places, it gets gorier, and the effects manage to help create memorable scenes, from something so simple as a different take on a cat’s eyes to a recently undead Gus trying to eat his oatmeal, Pet Sematary Two knows how to leave an impression.
Keeping with the casting of the original, some cult stars manage to draw new depths from the characters that they are working with. Clancy Brown is superb throughout, as he knows how to have fun when needed as well as having a menacing streak that grounds the character somewhat in sobering reality. Anthony Edwards should also get some praise, his depiction of grief and attempts at rebuilding his life is great but is countered with the fact his character also can’t shake off the stigma of being perceived as a lesser man, unworthy of the affection of his lost wife Renee, And fresh from stopping the Terminator in Terminator 2, Edward Furlong manages to capture the plight of an adolescent at the time, and channel it into an effective lead performance and the late, great Darlanne Fluegel manages to showcase two noticeably different yet believable sides of her character.
Some standout performances help Pet Sematary Two shake off the stigma of being merely a cash-in. Gleefully letting a fresh talent play around in the macabre potential of the original offers this great tale of costs of resurrection from a whole new perspective. A respectable entry representing some of the new changes of the fresh decade, Pet Sematary Two proves that there is life after death for the franchise yet.
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