Pet Sematary

Based on the famed Stephen King novel, when Dr. Louis Creed and his family move to rural Maine and discover a burial ground behind their house, evil things start to occur.

  • Starring: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz
  • Director(s): Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer
  • Producer(s): Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Steven Schneider, Mark Vahradian
  • Screenwriter(s): Matt Greenberg, Jeff Buhler
  • Distributor: Paramount Pictures
  • Animal Coordinator: Melissa Millett, Kirk Jarrett, Lindsey McCaw, Tanya Grahm
  • Release Date: Friday, April 05, 2019

Featured Animal Action

Throughout the film, the main character has a pet cat, who is seen performing such mild action as sitting/standing/lying, being held or petted, and walking/running. For all of these scenes, trainers used hand signals and verbal commands to cue the mild action, which the trained cat was accustomed to performing.

In the opening when the family is riding in the car and the cat is in a carrier in the backseat, prior to filming the trainer placed the cat carrier in the backseat of the set car between the two child actors. On action, the car was pulled down the road by the van while the actors talked and the cat laid in the cat carrier. Between takes the cat was placed in an air-conditioned van.

In the scene where the family sits in the kitchen and a cat jumps into the man’s lap, prior to shooting the scene trainers gave the actor some food treats. The actor also had a training buzzer in his pocket. A trainer off camera also had a buzzer. On action, the trainer used the buzzer, the cat was let loose, then the actor used the buzzer. The cat immediately jumped on his lap.

In the scene where the actor opens the closet, revealing the family cat, all mucked up with dried blood and scabs, the makeup department used nontoxic makeup on the cat and fake scabs. The trainers placed the cat in the closet, cued him to stay, and on action, the actor opened the door and looked down at him.

In the scene where the girl combs the cat’s thick coat, struggling, and the cat scratches the girl and runs off, this scene was filmed in different small takes. The cat’s fur was created by the makeup department. They placed egg whites on cat for the formatted appearance. They used corn syrup and organic red food coloring for blood.

Egg whites in cat/Leo’s fur formatted appearance. The girl was never pulling hard on the comb, she only pantomimed the motion. When the cat turns and scratches, the trainers cued the cat to hiss, using verbal cues. The cat never scratched the actor.

When we see the cat on the bed, eating the dead bird, the bird was fake. Trainers placed chicken juice on the fake bird so the cat would lick it. Once the trainers placed the cat and fake bird on the bed, trainers cued the cat to begin licking the fake bird. After they cut, trainers cleaned the cat.

In the scene when the actor walks down to the basement and the cat hisses at him and runs upstairs, the cat was trained to hiss and growl when shown a certain toy. Prior to shooting the scene, the trainer placed the cat on the bottom step of the stairs. Another trainer was just off camera in front of the cat and repeated “Stay” and “Wait” to cat and gave treats as needed. Cat remained in a sit stay as actor walked down the stairs and by the cat. Once the actor hit his mark, the trainer showed the cat his toy, the cat hissed and on cue ran up the stairs.

In the scene where the actor places the cat on the table with a syringe in hand, thinking of euthanizing him, the cat was brought to set from housing trailer in crate. The cat was kept on a leash when not working on a scene. Cat was given verbal praise, cooked chicken, cat treats and or salmon paste and end of each take for rewards.

The trainer was in costume to do the action for this scene. The trainer placed the cat on his side and held him in place. Cat was given treats and pets while on his side for a reward several times while filming. With his right hand the actor picked up the syringe and pretended to give the cat a shot in the neck by holding the syringe with the fake needle tip to the tip of the cat’s hair. The plunger of the syringe was never pushed. Another trainer stood off camera behind the trainer handling the cat and used a clicker to keep the cat’s eyeline in place. To elicit the violent response from the cat, in the next scene, the trainer put the syringe down, then picked up a stuffed panda bear and placed it near the cat’s face and on its paws, playing with him eliciting a growl and the cat batted at the panda. After shooting was done the cat was allowed to relax on a table away from noise and action with his leash on and was petted by trainers and given treats.

In the scene where the man drives cat to the highway, takes him out of the cage, and places him on the side of the road, the cat and the actor were acquainted. On action, the actor pulled the cat from the carrier and placed him on the ground. The actor opened the carrier door and the trainer verbally cued the cat to remain sitting as the actor walked back to the car. All the traffic was closed off to set.

In the scene where we see the cat walking down the middle of the highway, this was shot in a studio soundstage with a blue screen, not on a real highway. They filmed the cat walking on the stage from point A to point B.