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Pet Sematary: How Stephen King Feels About The Remake's Big Story Change

Contains spoilers for the 2019 Pet Sematary remake as well as the novel upon which the film is based

In a world where remakes and reboots are a dime a dozen, directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer have shaken things up with their take on Pet Sematary, the second adaptation of Stephen King's haunting horror novel of the same name, following after the 1989 feature directed by Mary Lambert. Critics have already showered the new Pet Sematary with praise, commending Kölsch and Widmyer for their risky decision to alter the source material in a major way. Now, King has revealed his thoughts on the big narrative change. 

Spoilers are ahead, so divert your attention if you want to catch Pet Sematary in theaters with as little foreknowledge as possible.

As revealed in the latest trailer for Pet Sematary, which centers around the Creed family and the ancient burial ground their new home is situated near, the remake sees the older Creed child become the victim of an automobile accident and subsequently get resurrected at the "pet sematary" that brings things back to life in a much different way. In King's novel and the film from the '80s, it's the toddler, Gage, who dies and is then revived; in Kölsch and Widmyer's movie, it's the Creeds' 8-year-old daughter, Ellie, played by Jeté Laurence. 

King spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the upcoming film during an in-depth interview, and shared that he thinks the Pet Sematary remake is "f****** great," alterations and all. 

"It's a really good movie. It's a grown-up, adult kind of movie. It's not like 12 semi-clad teens get killed in a summer camp. In this particular time frame, you know, there've been several movies that have been successful. Horror movies like Jordan Peele's Get Out last year. And then I think when Us opens, I think it's gonna be big. I think it's gonna be huge. [Writer's note: Us went on to break several box office records when it debuted in theaters on March 22.] Those are like adult-type fantasies," said King.

Asked if he was bothered by Kölsch and Widmyer's choice to have Ellie get killed and brought back to life rather than Gage, King said it "didn't change anything" for him, and that he feels the film is a faithful adaptation of his novel. From his perspective, the Pet Sematary remake still follows the same story, hits the same beats, and arrives at the same ending, so he doesn't see any issue with changing things up along the way — and is a little disappointed at the intense reactions some of his avid readers have given Kölsch and Widmyer.

"It's something different. They did a good job. Boy, I saw all the stuff that came online when people realized that it was Ellie rather than Gage that got run over in the road, and I'm thinking like, 'Man, these people...' It's so nuts. You can take Route 301 and go to Tampa, or you could take Route 17 and go to Tampa. But both times, you're gonna come out at Tampa!" King said with a laugh. "You know what I'm saying? It didn't change anything for me. I thought, 'Okay, I understand why they did it, because it's maybe easier to work with a zombie when she's a little girl, [rather] than a toddler.'"

King is right here: Kölsch and Widmyer do have a legitimate reason for changing that particular aspect of the story. The filmmaking duo previously told EW in a separate interview that it made more sense to have an older child be the victim, as audiences could more easily believe a young girl carrying out post-resurrection terror than they could a toddler of just 3 years. Also, there's additional room to explore the psychology of death and how that would impact someone of Ellie's age who actually knows what it means to die. 

"There was something about an 8-year-old and the psychology that she would have," Widmyer said. "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."

As we mentioned before, the Pet Sematary story change-up seems to have worked out in Kölsch and Widmyer's favor. Not only do they have critics raving, proclaiming the remake as "one of the best Stephen King adaptations ever," but they also have the coveted approval of Mr. King himself. How's that for a win-win?

Starring Jason Clarke as Louis Creed, Amy Seimetz as Rachel Creed, Hugo Lavoie and Lucas Lavoie as Gage Creed, and John Lithgow as Jud Crandall, Pet Sematary is set to creep into cinemas on April 5.