Stephen King has weighed in on a crucial rewrite to the latest screen version of his horror thriller “Pet Sematary,” and he approves. Though his most steadfast fans have expressed dismay, the author said he understands the reason for the change, and insists it doesn’t alter the overall story in a significant way. Directed by Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer, this is second movie to come out based on the 1983 novel, and already King prefers this one to Mary Lambert’s 1989 version.
[Warning: Spoilers ahead for the plot of “Pet Sematary.”]
In King’s novel, the Creed family gets the shock of a lifetime when their dead three-year-old toddler Gage is resurrected and returns home. The film, however, has made a strategic choice to kill the Creed’s young eight-year-old daughter Ellie, played by Jeté Laurence, instead.
“It’s something different,” the author recently told EW. “They did a good job. Boy, I saw all the stuff that came online when people realized that it was Ellie rather than Gage that got run over in the road, and I’m thinking like, ‘Man, these people…’ It’s so nuts.”
King is pleased with the film, calling it “a grown-up, adult kind of movie.” He said it remains true to his original story, even with the change.
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“You can take Route 301 and go to Tampa, or you could take Route 17 and go to Tampa. But both times, you’re gonna come out at Tampa!” he said. “You know what I’m saying? It didn’t change anything for me. I thought, ‘OK, I understand why they did it, because it’s maybe easier to work with a zombie when she’s a little girl than a toddler.’”
Speaking to EW earlier this year, the directors offered the same practical reasoning for the change. They added that the initial film had used a doll, but felt that “Child’s Play” had already done the possessed doll thing. “It’s creepy and it’s effective,” said Widmyer. “[But] this was a chance to try something fresh.”
“Pet Sematary” opens in theaters Friday, April 5.