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Earlier this month, Warner Bros released a new trailer for Pet Sematary that revealed a key change from the source material. Unlike in the original Stephen King novel, where toddler Gage Creed is the one who’s killed and later resurrected in the eponymous graveyard, the remake is having Gage’s sister, Ellie, take his place in the truck accident. Needless to say this change has generated a lot of chatter amongst Pet Sematary fans, but according to Jason Clarke, who’s playing patriarch Louis Creed in the latest adaptation, King is okay with this particular creative liberty being taken. As Clarke put it:
It’s pretty easy to justify [the change]. You can’t play that movie with a three-year-old boy. You end up with a doll or some animated thing. So you’re going to get a much deeper, richer story by swapping for a seven-year-old or nine-year-old girl. The reward will come. People who are upset will hopefully see the benefit of it. But a lot of people didn’t have an issue. Stephen King didn’t have an issue with it.
It goes without saying that when adapting a book into a movie, there are going to be changes to the narrative not only so it can fit within a certain runtime, but also stand out from the source material. This latest Pet Sematary movie also needs to differentiate itself from the previous one that came out in 1989, and killing Ellie Creed instead of Gage Creed is one of the ways it will do so. Stephen King hasn’t always approved of changes made to his tales, as evidenced by how he feels about Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, but according to Jason Clarke, he doesn’t have an issue with Pet Sematary killing off the other Creed child.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura previously noted that Pet Sematary directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer were “nervous” about making this change to Stephen King’s story, but decided to move forward with it because they felt it was too difficult to get the three-year-old actors playing Gage Creed (Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie) to do what that kid is doing in the original book. Clearly Jason Clarke agrees with this decision, saying later in his interview with Flickering Myth:
As an actor, ultimately, you don’t care. It’s like saying ‘how do you approach playing a real person?’. You have to serve what’s on the page and what the director wants and what happens on the day. You don’t have any choice.
We’ll have to wait and see just how many other changes are in store for the new Pet Sematary movie, but considering that there’s been a Stephen King-aissance unfolding over the last several years with movies like IT and TV shows like Castle Rock, there’ll probably be a fair amount of folks who check out Pet Sematary either to watch the tale unfold for the first time or to compare this adaptation to the original version. Along with the previously mentioned actors, Pet Sematary stars Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed, Jeté Laurence as Ellie Creed, John Lithgow as Jud Crandall, Obssa Ahmed as Victor Pascow and Alyssa Brooke Levine as Zelda Goldman.
Pet Sematary scares its way into theaters on April 5. Don’t forget to look through our 2019 release schedule to find out what other movies are opening later this year.