In the original Pet Sematary novel, a young toddler dies and comes back from the grave, but this year's adaptation of the story instead depicts a nine-year-old girl undergoing a similar process, a narrative twist that angered some fans. Despite this "backlash," one of the film's stars noted that author Stephen King had no issue with the new film making this change to the source material.
"People who are upset will hopefully see the benefit of it," Clarke detailed on the twist to Flickering Myth. "But a lot of people didn't have an issue. Stephen King didn't have an issue with it."
In 1989, director Mary Lambert helmed an adaptation of the novel with Miko Hughes playing the terrifying toddler. While the pint-sized terror in that film was effective, Clarke noted that the tone of this new adaptation differs from that film, which makes having an older child more accurately reflect the film's goals.
"It's pretty easy to justify [the change]. You can't play that movie with a three-year-old boy," the actor admitted. "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 film's "twist" was debuted in the most recent trailer, with the filmmakers likely knowing that it would be a major talking point among viewers. Coinciding with the release of that trailer, the filmmakers addressed what inspired their take.
"That twist was in the script when we came on board, and straight away you could see that it was one of the smartest things in the script. It was new and fresh but also absolutely kept the essence of the novel," co-director Dennis Widmyer explained in the film's press kit. "One of the things we liked about the novel is that it's always the character of Ellie who is asking about these things. She's asking about her cat dying one day and asking all these big questions. So, it felt right for it to be her, to echo these questions to her Dad, to resolve these earlier conversations that we've had. It felt like a nice way to connect that theme."
Co-director Kevin Kolsch pointed out, "You've got to be sure that you're making changes for the right reasons, not just a shock factor. And changing it to Ellie makes absolute sense to the story."
Fans will see if the twist pays off when Pet Sematary lands in theaters on April 5th.
What do you think of this twist? Let us know in the comments below or hit up @TheWolfman on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!
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