Jeff’s (Edward Furlong) movie star mother dies in a tragic on-set accident. He and his father Chase (Anthony Edwards) move to the small town where she grew up to bury her and put her things in order. They decide to stay and make a go of it, Chase opening up a veterinary practice and Jeff enrolling in school. Things are rocky for Jeff almost immediately as he runs afoul of one of the vilest bullies in cinema history. He makes friends with local kid Drew (Jason McGuire) whose stepdad Gus (Clancy Brown) is law enforcement. Gus is an asshole himself and one night, in a fit of rage, shoots Drew’s dog, killing it. Drew takes his dog to the Pet Sematary and it is here that Jeff learns of the sordid and horrific history of the area, and that what gets buried in the real Sematary doesn’t stay dead for long. The dog comes back and is a menace, eventually attacking Gus and killing him. Afraid of getting in trouble, Jeff and Drew take Gus to the sacred burial grounds and put Gus into the dirt. Gus returns, of course, deranged and insane. After this, events escalate out of control, and Jeff and his father Chase must put things to right or die trying.
So I had never seen this sequel. I didn’t see the point to it. Wasn’t it just going to be the same basic story as the original? Why bother? But I’d heard good things about it so I decided to at last give it a go, and you know what? It’s pretty good. Yeah, it’s just basically a repeat of the original, with different characters with (slightly) different concerns, but it moves along at a good pace, has some cool kills, and there’s just enough here to not only help it stand on its own, but to excel as a piece of horror cinema. First off, the explorations of grief and loss are tangible and endearing, just as much as they are in the original. Coming to grips with losing someone (or a pet) that you love is horrific all on its own, never mind having the temptation to bring them back to life. The bully in this movie is such a prick that every time he showed his sneering face, I wanted to see him die. That’s some good villain work right there. And Clancy Brown…God bless Mr. Brown. He chews the scenery in all the right and perfect ways. He’s funny, charming, despicable, and downright terrifying, sometimes all in one breath. He steals the movie. I will even go so far as to say this sequel is better than the more recent, tepid remake.
Count me as pleasantly surprised. Pet Sematary Two is a movie I will watch again because it’s affable and smooth and really hits all the right notes. No, it’s not terribly original, but it is wildly entertaining and it succeeds in making you care for the characters. A lot of movies can’t even get half of that equation right, much less both ends. So yeah, this is a good one, easy and breezy and enjoyable. Sometimes, dead is better, and sometimes, fun is all you need.