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New Pet Sematary trailer proves that sometimes dead is better

Contains spoilers for both the original Pet Sematary and the Pet Sematary remake

They don't come back the same. And apparently, neither do remakes. 

Paramount Pictures has unveiled the second trailer for directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer's remake of Pet Sematary, a refresh of the 1989 horror film based on spook master Stephen King's 1983 novel of the same name. 

While the footage establishes that the updated take on Pet Sematary will follow the same basic beats as the source material — Dr. Louis Creed (played by Jason Clarke) takes his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and children Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and Gage (Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie) from the hustle and bustle of the big city to a slower and more relaxed way of life in the country, where the family discovers that their new home is nestled next to a pet cemetery built on top of an ancient burial ground — it also reveals that the remake changes something major about the story. 

In the original Pet Sematary film and in King's novel, the Creeds' young son Gage is — spoiler alert — struck by a truck speeding along the same street on which their cat, Church, was killed some time before. However, in this year's remake, it's the family's daughter who is killed in the tragic automobile accident. 

From there, everything else plays out as it does in the '80s pic and the King-penned book. Dr. Creed is shocked to see that Church is alive, resurrected from the dead as a twisted creature with matted fur and a feral look in its eyes. Obviously, the "pet sematary" where the Creeds buried Church isn't just any place to lay a beloved pet to rest and remember them, as Dr. Creed tries to tell Ellie after Church's death and prior to her own. It's something much more — much darker. The Creeds' neighbor Jud Crandall (John Lithgow) explains it best: "The whole town's been using this place for generations. Folks make a kinda ritual out of it. It's not some campfire story."

The cemetery is lined with trees marked with crude swirls (ones that look similar to the carvings of the Yellow King on the first season of True Detective, if we're being completely honest here) that serve as warning signs to those who dare walk across its ground. 

"The locals tribes carved them before they fled. They fear that place. There's something up there. Something that dates way back," Lithgow's Jud says in the trailer as he and Dr. Creed venture into the cemetery in the dead of night. "Those woods belong to something else. Something that brings things back."

When Ellie, walking along the street in front of her family's home, reaches out to pick up the now-alive Church, she's hit by an enormous truck. Dr. Creed witnesses her death, and, overcome with grief over the loss of his only daughter, decides to take her body to the cemetery. It isn't long before Ellie comes back to life, much to the horror of her mother, who can barely wrap her mind around the situation. 

This being a film based on a King novel, the terror doesn't stop there. You see, it isn't simply a demonic version of their resurrected daughter that the Creeds are faced with — there's more that follows Ellie once she rises from the "pet sematary" and heads home. Like Jud admits to Dr. Creed, "I should have never shown you that place. Your child is not the only thing that will come back."

Watch the trailer in full in the video above. 

When it comes to Stephen King adaptations, they are largely hit or miss — especially the ones released in recent years. Director Andy Muschietti's iteration of It from 2017? One of the best horror films of that year. Nikolaj Arcel's take on The Dark Tower rolled out a few months ahead of It? A total flop. That said, while it's certainly stimulating to realize that Kölsch and Widmyer are doing something new with their Pet Sematary and aren't simply debuting a cut-and-paste rehashing, it remains to be seen whether the risk of changing the victim of the story will pay off. 

Kölsch, Widmyer, and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura explained to Entertainment Weekly that the reason why it's Ellie and not Gage who dies and is revived in the Pet Sematary remake is because the team wanted to dig into the psychology of the character and present something scarier in the form of an older child. Eight-year-old Ellie being wiser than toddler Gage means that she understands what death entails; her being physically bigger means that she is capable of killing when she comes back to life. Additionally, the Pet Sematary creatives didn't want such a young actor to have to perform any gruesome acts, as toddlers often have a difficult time differentiating between what's real and what isn't. 

"Gage is so young, you can't really do that much with him," said di Bonaventura. "So this way, we're able to really get underneath our affected child. We're able to get into the psychological horror of a child [coming back] because of her age." 

Added Widmyer, "There was something about an 8-year-old and the psychology that she would have. She would understand what happened to her on the road. She would understand that she's dead. She would know how to not only physically kill a person, but psychologically destroy them as well. It just gave another layer to it."

This story change-up could mean the difference between the Pet Sematary remake sitting alongside the great King adaptations like It, or falling to join the crappy ones like The Dark Tower. Fingers crossed the film is a smash. 

Mark your calendars for Pet Sematary to debut in theaters on April 5.