Pet Sematary is still a good seven months away from hitting theaters but EW has the first look at some of the action, along with a few juicy plot-points to sink our teeth into, to tide us over ’til then. Lifelong fans of the Stephen King classic should prepare themselves for a whole new take on the story we all know and love so well. There are definitely plenty of surprises afoot.

The upcoming flick, a reboot/remake of sorts co-directed by Starry Eyes’ Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, features a trio of high-profile names in John Lithgow, Jason Clarke, and Amy Seimetz. 11-year-old newcomer Jeté Laurence plays Ellie Creed, the youngster who discovers the eponymous graveyard and unknowingly unleashes horror upon the small town of Ludlow, Maine.

On the decision to remake the movie for a modern audience, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura noted that there’s a completely different understanding of death nowadays than there was back in 1989. Equally, our fears are different.

“One of the most interesting themes in the book, the original movie, and this one is, ‘How far would you go to see someone again?’” he said.

Clarke, who’s more well known for high drama than horror, plays Ellie’s father, a physician who becomes obsessed with the graveyard once he learns about the power it yields.

“[He’s] a guy who thinks he has death figured out. ‘I see death every day, I work in an ER. Don’t tell me about death, I understand death.’ But he doesn’t understand death when it’s dropped onto his lap. He’ll do whatever he can to undo it. It’s sort of like the science world meets the supernatural world,” advised the Aussie actor.

Film-making duo Kölsch and Widmyer reckon the great strength of Pet Sematary, and the primary argument for remaking it for modern times, is how it deals with death and in particular a child’s view of death. They compare frequent visits to the graveyard to a debilitating gambling addiction.

“Whenever you’re down, it’s kind of like, ‘If I go one more time I can just break even!’” Kölsch says. “That happens a lot in Pet Sematary. Instead of just accepting the loss, they’re always trying to double down — and it just keeps costing more life.”

The two are hoping their movie’s grounded realism will make it even scarier than the 1989 version. They promise new takes on memorable characters (Lithgow’s dishevelled loner is certainly worlds away from the friendly neighbour of the original), but are focused on the real-life scares, the horror of being alive, rather than relying on supernatural elements.

The film drops April 5, 2019. Check out a couple first-look pics below. Read the whole interview, and see the rest, over on EW.

Left to right: John Lithgow as Jud and Jeté Laurence as Ellie in PET SEMATARY, from Paramount Pictures

 

PET SEMATARY, from Paramount Pictures