Paramount Players‘ follow-up to the 2019 adaptation of Stephen King‘s Pet Sematary has cast Jackson White as a young version of Jud Crandall. First published in 1983, King‘s novel centers on doctor Louis Creed and his family moving to a small Maine town and learning of a pet cemetery near their new house with the ability to bring anything buried there back to life. After the sudden loss of his son, Louis buries him in the cemetery but swiftly faces the consequences of his actions trying to play God.
The novel was first adapted for the big screen in 1989 with King writing the script himself and Mary Lambert directing and was a box office success, though divided critics and became a cult favorite over the years. Paramount would take another stab at the material in 2019 with the Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer-helmed effort, which saw slightly better yet still mixed reviews and a larger box office return. Thanks to this financial success, the studio announced development on a follow-up for Paramount+ earlier this year, and the ball continues rolling on the project.
Over four months since it was first announced, Lindsey Beer had signed on to direct the film and write on a draft based on 2019’s scribe Jeff Buhler. Deadline has brought word that White has signed on to star in the movie. The Mrs. Fletcher alum is currently set to star in the film as Jud Crandall, confirming the project to be some kind of prequel to the recent adaptation of King‘s novel and the novel itself. That being said, the studio is still keeping plot details close to the chest for the film.
Though generally considered one of King‘s most iconic novels, and the scariest by the author himself, storytellers seem to have a really tough time translating Pet Sematary to the screen in a way that proves just as terrifying as its source material. While John Lithgow‘s portrayal of Jud in the 2019 iteration may not have had the exaggerated pronunciation of Fred Gwynne‘s in the first film, his performance did feel closer in touch with the source material. Whichever version viewers prefer, it’s hard to deny the character proved to be one of the best things about both adaptations, if one of the more under-explored.
Given neither White nor Beer have much on their resumes, it’s hard to know what to expect from the Pet Sematary prequel project. With Buhler and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura having previously discussed their interest in exploring the mythology of the Maine town, the Micmac, the cemetery, and the Wendigo, its expansion on King‘s work could prove either fascinating or disappointing. Only time will tell as development continues on the film.