In the original 1989 film and in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary novel, Zelda was the sister of Rachel Creed who died from spinal meningitis when they were children. Caring for her sister and her death traumatized Rachel into adulthood, and the new Pet Sematary, from directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, is doubling down on Zelda. Speaking about how that changes things for her character Rachel, actress Amy Seimetz said:
I love having a meal to chew as an actor. I love what they did with it and I think that, what I’ve been talking about too is that what’s interesting of making her have more agency and a little more actionable is that she has this guilt that she’s dealing with and feels responsible for Zelda’s death. I think that’s really interesting because just in grief in general you always feel some amount of guilt in some way, as if you could control the outcome. You can’t control death, death is coming to everyone.
That last line sounds like something Melisandre of Asshai would say on Game of Thrones, and it certainly fits for the prevalence of death in Pet Sematary. It seems that Amy Seimetz loved the changes made for the new Pet Sematary and how they affected her character and made for a more rewarding acting experience. As she told CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell in a conversation at SXSW, Rachel’s story gives her a lot to do and a lot to work with as an actor.
It seems like the new Pet Sematary will make Rachel a more fully fleshed out character that is making more choices, and not just having things happen to her. It also sounds like we will better understand Rachel’s trauma, and how that shaped the way she is reacting to the horrific events happening in the present day in the film as death comes for her family once again.
Rachel feels guilty and responsible for the death of her sister and that guilt has stayed with her throughout her life. That makes for a compelling character and as Amy Seimetz said, it is something that is universal and inescapable.
Guilt over the loss of a loved one, the feeling of powerlessness and regret is something we all experience. Is it our fault and could we have done more are questions that assault you in the wake of the death of a loved one, and ultimately just get quieter but never go away. This is especially true for Rachel and the death of her sister Zelda, whose illness was a burden on her family and especially Rachel.
You can hear Amy Seimetz discussing Rachel with Sean in the video below.
If you’ve seen the original 1989 Pet Sematary, you know that the scenes with Zelda are some of the most horrifying to behold, so it is exciting that the Rachel and Zelda story seems to be getting a little extra in this remake. In the original film Zelda was played by a man and the scenes had a bit of a dreamy quality, but they look to be more realistic this time around to differentiate them. The most recent trailer showed a snippet of Zelda, who is being played by Alyssa Brooke Levine, and it was nightmarish.