Dog’s Movie House: “Curse,” “Pet Semetary” Good, But Not Great!

First let’s start with “Pet Semetary,” a reimagining of one of Stephen King’s most popular novels and the subject of a well received cinematic adaptation in 1989. This one stars Jason Clarke as Louis Creed, a man moving his family to Northern Maine to practice medicine at the local university. His family, including wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz), daughter Ellie (Jete Laurence) and little son Gage (Hugo and Lucas Lavoie) enjoy the place at first but are a little creeped out to discover a Pet Cemetery in the woods behind their property. There fears are temporarily put to rest by their kindly neighbor Jud (John Lithgow), but when tragedy strikes, the Creeds discover something sinister beyond the Cemetery, something that could damn them forever.

hNow if you’ve read the book or seen the original movie you have template for what happens here. However directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer along with scribe Jeff Buhler have something different in mind. If you’ve seen the trailer, the filmmakers give away a big plot reveal right there, but trust me when I say that’s just the beginning. What follows is a very interesting riff on King’s story even if it doesn’t always provide the scares. It’s a good, not great, adaptation the manages to through just enough new into the mix to recommend it. 3 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!

Next we have Neil Marshall’s (“The Descent”) reboot of “Hellboy.” I’m not sure anyone asked for this one but it’s here nonetheless. It begs comparisons to Guillermo Del Toro’s terrific films starring Ron Pearlman as Hellboy and that doesn’t do this film any favors. The rambling plot involves Hellboy (David Harbour doing what he can with a weak script and really off-putting makeup) trying to put down the villainous Blood Queen (a fairly wasted Milla Jovovich). Of course he’s at odds with his adoptive human father (Ian McShane, totally wasted he…ah forget it!).

This film has some high points like the invasion of the demons into London near the end of the film or Hellboy’s fight with three giants near the beginning, but the weaknesses of character or story construction in this film undermine a lot of the good stuff. You have some good actors getting the shaft by Andrew Crosby’s weak script and that’s too bad given that an R-Rated “Hellboy” would do really well with the right talent. Fitfully entertaining but ultimately disappointing! 2 1/2 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer!

Finally we have “The Curse Of La Llorona,” a horror film that’s loosely connected to the “Conjuring” Universe of movies. La Llorona is the vengeful spirit of a 17th Century Mexican woman who drowned her two children in a fit of jealous rage then took her own life when she realized what she’d done. She now wanders the earth for all eternity, a monster in search of children to replace her own.

The film is set during 1973 when a recently widowed child care worker (Linda Cardellini) discovers some horrific circumstances involving one of her families. In a complete and understandable misunderstanding, the two children of the panicked mother (an excellent Patricia Velasquez) end up dead and soon the creepy spirit of La Llorona is after the care worker’s kids as well.

This film would be excellent were it not for director Michael Chaves’ over-reliance on jump scares and a few scenes of smart people doing really stupid things. That said, the performances are pretty strong, particularly by Raymond Cruz as an unorthodox exorcist, the monster is suitable creepy and Cruz is able to create some genuinely suspenseful set pieces. Not great, but not to shabby either. 3 Out Of 5 On Kendog’s Barkometer! So Sayeth The Kendog!

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