Plot: Mary Lambert’s film adaptation of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary has stood the trials of critics, fans, and even time and remains a popular horror picture. In Unearthed & Untold, we are taken inside the production of Pet Sematary and allowed to see the nuts & bolts on how this genre classic was created. The movie even details both King’s push to have the book published and the tribulations of getting the movie a green light, so it guides us through the entire creative process involved. This in depth exploration of Pet Sematary took filmmakers John Campopiano and Justine White almost five years to research and produce, but that hard work is evident on the screen, as this is a skilled, insightful piece.
Entertainment Value: Unearthed & Untold is a deep dive into Pet Sematary, a story told through archival footage from the shoot and interviews with numerous members of the film’s cast and crew. As I said above, this movie takes us back to the source and shows us the journey from King’s mind to book, then the challenge of having it adapted into a movie and how it took a writers’ strike to finally light the fuse. The film’s director Mary Lambert is a frequent presence in the documentary and shares all kinds of insights into her approach and thought process, such as her desire to steer Pet Sematary off the track most horror films were on at the time. A host of cast and crew members provide on camera interviews, including a lot of the locals who wound up as part of the production, which was cool. I appreciate the “outsider” perspective on film production, as it often has such an unvarnished take on the experience. The subjects covered in the interview are broad and always interesting, from working with children on set to the effects work to production hiccups to how the experience took a toll on some involved, the latter of which leads to some powerful moments.
In addition to the wealth of interviews provided here, Unearthed & Untold also showcases some archival footage from the production and that covers a good range of elements. I appreciated the looks at some of the makeup and other special effects work, especially the in-progress materials, but there’s also candid moments that show a more light hearted side of the shoot. In other words, this is a true behind the scenes look in all respects, from all the first hand accounts to actual behind the scenes footage, so it is quite an in depth piece. So that leaves the question of whether or not Unearthed & Untold is an engaging movie it its own right, as all the insight in the world doesn’t mean the documentary will be a riveting experience. As it turns out, this is put together in a polished style that weaves this interesting narrative, one that keeps you hooked right from the jump. This is no simple task, as even informative documentaries can sometimes feel more like collections of stories more than a fully realized film, but Unearthed & Untold doesn’t suffer that fate. This is an excellent documentary that should interest not just fans of Pet Sematary and the horror genre, but anyone who appreciates film and the creative processes involved.