Jason Clarke, John Lithgow lead well-handled remake of 1989 horror flick

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Sometimes the dead are worth resurrecting. 

That's the case with "Pet Sematary," the effective and suitably creepy remake of the 1989 adaptation of the Stephen King novel. This new "Pet Sematary" is tightly wound and unfolds at a steady pace, and features strong performances from its sturdy cast.   

Of course it is slightly disingenuous for a Hollywood remake to preach against bringing the dead back to life, but no matter. (A more self-aware film would have doubled as a commentary on reboot culture, but no sense in biting the hand that feeds.) 

Jason Clarke is Louis, an ER doctor who is moving his family — his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), 8-year-old daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and toddler son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) — from Boston to Ludlow, Maine to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. 

Their large property extends far back into the woods behind their house, where there lies a cemetery for pets, and beyond that, a mysterious burial ground where the dead can be brought back to life. 

Louis' neighbor, Jud (John Lithgow, aces as always) takes Louis back to the site after Church, the family cat, meets an untimely end. Except when Church comes back, he's not quite himself; the furball's hair is all tattered and he comes with a newly acquired mean streak. 

What's better, accepting the finality of death or settling for rebirth with a few minor flaws? That question is tested when Ellie is in an accident and Louis takes matters into his own hands. "Pet Sematary" addresses issues of death and our unwillingness to accept it in a fun, frank manner. The dead don't always have it this good. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Pet Sematary'

GRADE: B

Rated R: for horror violence, bloody images, and some language

Running time: 100 minutes

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