Pet Sematary trailer: Stephen King's horror novel comes back to life

Sometimes dead is better. 

On Wednesday, after releasing seven spooky snaps and a grim-looking poster for the film, Paramount Pictures unveiled the first trailer for the Pet Sematary remake

Directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch, Pet Sematary is based upon Stephen King's 1983 horror novel of the same name and follows 20 years after filmmaker Mary Lambert released the first Pet Sematary movie in 1989. 

The first look at Pet Sematary does what all solid trailers for book-to-movie adaptations should: establish the central premise of the story. Opening on Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), and their two children Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) driving down a road lined with lush trees, the trailer explains that the Creeds have moved from the bustling city of Boston to rural Maine. 

At their new home, the Creed family learns that a mysterious burial ground is tucked away in the forest that sits behind their property. The children of the town are known to use the "Pet Sematary" (an unintentional misspelling of "cemetery")to bury their deceased cats, dogs, and other critters — but it isn't what it seems. 

In voiceover, John Lithgow's Jud Crandall, the Creeds' eccentric neighbor, relays the mythos of the woods and the burial site within it. 

"Kids used to dare each other to go into the woods at night. They knew the power of that place," he says as footage of young children walking across the forest floor, banging on tiny toy drums and wearing haunting animal masks, plays out on screen. "They feared it. Those woods belong to something else."

We see a shot of Jud standing in the woods, surrounded by crude crosses mapped out in a swirling pattern, before the trailer gives viewers the most striking image yet: the Creeds' cat, Church, looking mangy and on a mission to exact some kind of revenge. In King's novel and the 1989 film, Church is hit by a truck outside Jud's home, but when Jud takes Dr. Creed to bury Church in the forest, the feline comes back to life. 

Jud warns that "the ground is bad" as the trailer shows a semi-truck barreling down the road in front of the Creeds' house. Dr. Creed calls out for Gage, signifying the moment in which the family faces their greatest tragedy. 

"It may just be a crazy folk tale," Jud says over clips of a funeral parade moving through the woods, an actual funeral taking place, Gage banging on a window, Dr. Creed waking up with dirt covering his feet, and a man in a hospital bed grabbing at Dr. Creed. We also see shots a scalpel, an eerie spiral carved into a tree, and blood smeared across a car window and a door while Jud adds, "There is something up in those woods, something that brings things back."

It's spooky stuff, guys, real spooky stuff.

The trailer closes on one of the most famous lines from the entire Pet Sematary canon — "Sometimes dead is better" — and an image of the handmade "Pet Sematary" sign. 

Check it out above.

Though the Pet Sematary trailer was packed with creepy moments, and does an excellent job proving that the new adaptation will do right by King's novel, one major thing that was missing was Zelda, the younger sister of Rachel Creed, who died due to spinal meningitis. She made a lasting impression on readers and audiences everywhere, and while she can't be spotted in this trailer, she will definitely appear in the Pet Sematary remake — and in a much better way. 

Both the Stephen King novel and the '80s silver screen adaptation paint Zelda as paper-thin with a sunken-in face and stringy hair, but in the film, she was actually played by male actor Andrew Hubatsek, who dressed in drag. This time around, a young actress named Alyssa Brooke Levine will take on the role of Zelda, and directors Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch have promised that their take on the character will be more faithful to the source material. 

"It's more accurate to the book, I'll just say that," Dennis Widmyer shared with Entertainment Weekly. "In the original movie, it's a 21-year-old guy in drag playing it, and in the book, as you recall, it's a 10-year-old girl."

He added that the Pet Sematary remake will lean into the "grounded nature" of horror, especially when it comes to Zelda, her terrifying appearance, and her grim reality. "You go, 'How do you top Zelda?' It was big and scary and awesome, but if you think about the reality of the Zelda situation, what that would do to a family, with her wasting away in this bedroom, and a younger sister being frightened of her older sister's debilitating illness, that on its own is pretty scary," said Widmyer. 

Based on Widmyer's comments and this first trailer, it seems that Pet Sematary will distance itself from its film predecessor by avoiding coming across as over-the-top or somewhat campy, like the original Pet Sematary did. Instead, it'll hone in on what makes the story so horrifying. 

Screenwriter Jeff Buhler previously told Dread Central that the goal for the remake was to "tell a really grounded, character-driven, and psychologically horrific version of Pet Sematary … the scariest book that King ever wrote." He added that the upcoming film will be "one of the scariest Stephen King adaptations ever."

See just how creepy the Pet Sematary remake really is when the film opens in theaters on April 5, 2019.