While Mary Lambert’s “Pet Sematary” was nothing but a melodramatic exercise in tedium that put the actual center of the film in the background in favor of endless moaning and groaning about inept parents, her follow-up puts the sematary front and center. And still pretty much misses the point of it all. The 1992 follow-up is ugly, mean-spirited and still lacks any dread or menace to it. Not to mention there’s an immense focus on animal cruelty that’s often tough to sit through. In the end, it also fails to recognize the lure of the sematary and why these idiots continue bringing their loved ones to it to revive the dead. Once again the sematary is still there.
Once again no one really knows it’s there in spite of there being a huge opening with remains behind the pet graveyard. Once again people in this movie revive the dead like they’re recycling cans at the supermarket, and once again there’s never any explanation as to why the town simply doesn’t destroy the burial ground. Why not bulldoze it or bless it or bring a troop of demonologists to destroy its spell? Hell, why not recruit a group of actual Native Americans to relinquish its power? Do people in the town secretly want this sematary? Is someone protecting it from being demolished in hopes of utilizing this sematary and hoping to prevent a loved one from rising without turning murderous or rabid?
It’s never explored. It’s barely even hinted, thus the plot hole is gaping and distracting. The only time there’s a dabbling in the lure of the sematary is when young Drew’s beloved dog is shot dead by his step dad Gus during a Halloween party. After sitting with him, Drew and main character Jeff decide to try their luck and bury him in the sacred graveyard. Much like the cat in the original film, the dog emerges as the loving pet and quickly becomes a vicious rabid monster who turns on his loyal master, immediately. Anthony Edwards is a widower veterinarian still getting over the loss of his wife, while Edward Furlong as his angsty son Jeff, is angered by the fact that his dad’s new assistant Marjorie is not only obsessed with his late mom, who was once a famous movie star, but seems intent on replacing her. Most of this hooplah is still the same old familial melodrama, but with some occasional twists. Jeff’s constant nightmares surrounding his mother’s death make for some gruesome imagery, but beyond that there’s really nothing that provides compelling material for the audience. To distract from the plot holes and evident blandness of the cast, Clancy Brown is cast as the mythos’ first real villain. As Gus, he’s a rapist, animal abuser, child abuser, and murderer.
When he’s killed by his stepson’s newly revived dog and returns after being buried, Brown is given carte blanche to tear the screen a new one as a conniving zombie psychopath. There’s a real sadistic streak to this sequel, as director Lambert exchanges all sense of subtlety for brutality that’s never scary as it is sickening. From undead Gus’ murdering of Jeff’s bully with a motorcycle, to his massacring of his pet rabbits, there’s a real mean streak here that carries in to the story. One moment even involves Gus’ mangling of peas and potatoes as he spews them from his mouth with a mad chuckle much to the confusion of his family. “Pet Sematary 2” opts for more horror and never quite delivers, as the premise for the sequel is just as confusing and tedious as the first film. It’s a sequel that really should never have been made, since the original was never begging for a follow-up anyway. Director Mary Lambert follows up her original film with a sequel that has a really disturbing mean streak to it. Filled with sadistic story turns, mean spirited humor, and almost gratuitous animal cruelty, “Pet Sematary Two” is an ugly, unappealing, and unnecessary follow-up to the ’89 melodrama that fails to pinpoint the appeal of the sematary yet again.