For horror fans, a warning from Stephen King also serves as an endorsement, and in February, he tweeted the just-released trailer for the new adaptation of his Pet Sematary with a warning: “You might consider skipping this movie if you have heart trouble.”
Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer were gleeful. “It’s pretty surreal,” Widmyer says. Obviously, he admits, they were hoping for King’s approval, “but it’s so intangible in your brain that if you think about it too much, you drive yourself crazy, thinking about something you worked on, and your hero is actually sitting in a theater and watching and having thoughts and commenting on it.”
“You can’t ignore the first film, but we really tried to put it out of our heads there for a while and just went back and read the book a number of times …”
And their hero is not the only one. Since Kölsch and Widmyer made waves in indie horror circles with their sophomore feature film Starry Eyes, they’ve been embraced as an exciting choice to adapt what many people call King’s most frightening book. After Mary Lambert’s beloved 1989 film adaptation of Pet Sematary, how do the filmmakers intend to distinguish their own take on the novel?
“The first film was a big influence on us,” Kölsch says. “It was a film I remember seeing at a friend’s house during a sleepover, watching it in his basement and getting really scared, terrified.”