What I like most about the remake of the movie, is the heavy nod to that thing in the woods. It plays a bigger part than the 1989 version. I won’t spoil it here, but the new version even goes so far as to really delve into the motivations of the characters. Like, why would Jud ever in his right mind lead Louis to that burial ground to bury Ellie’s cat, Church? Deep down in his gut, he knew what would happen. Well, this rendition digs into that sour ground and sheds some light.
Fair warning, while this post avoids any major spoilers, it does get into what I consider perhaps minor spoilers if you aren't familiar with the story. Read at your own risk.
The remake does a lot of things very well, but it also falls flat in a number of places. Let me break them down. First and foremost, I think the 2019 version did a great job setting the atmosphere for the story. The first act is very well done, and we learn about all the characters. We get to see the Creeds try and adapt to a rural lifestyle. The road by their house and the trucks are almost a character, a villain lying in the background. This movie knows you have read the book or seen the older film, as it plays off those expectations, at times with a sly grin and wink, and at other times with a devilish smile and crazy eye. I loved those moments in the new film. Secondly, it doesn’t rely on too many jump scares, instead tries to build dread and eeriness.
Second, let’s talk about Jud. I love Jud as a character and while I missed the accent from the 1989 film, John Lithgow does a fine job portraying him. He’s a likable character that you fall in love with right from the get-go. However, that love starts to turn stonier as the movie moves on, making you question his real motives, or what really happened to his wife.
Another great point in this film is the expansion of Rachel and her fear of her late sister, Zelda. The original scenes of Zelda in the 1989 version of the film scared the living shit out of me as a kid (yeah, I saw the movie as a young child, probably explains my penchant for horror and scary shit). I think the directors realized that Zelda was scary for a lot of folks and ramped that up to a 10 in this film.
Overall, was the movie great? No. It wasn’t. It did an excellent job setting things up, then went too fast through the rest of it. It does delve into some material from the book that I found to be great, and as mentioned before, Lithgow does a fine job playing Jud. Overall, I give it maybe 6.5 dead cats out of 10. I enjoyed it and was happy to see it.