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    • It was a combination of both. We worked with E² Sound, who are the guys who did A Quiet Place. Oscar nominated, very talented sound company. And the first conversation we had was how important and vital sound design was going to be in the movie. Kevin and I were always saying that what you don’t see is even scarier. And especially with the burial of the cat, you want that scene to feel like a nightmare sequence. We knew that the sounds of the woods were going to be very important. They had to feel like a character. So it wasn’t just the sound of wind and leaves, there was also the sound of breaking tree branches, footsteps, movement like something large was lurking out there. And then there was also knowing when the sound should drop out - like right before the dumbwaiter drops. With the dragging ceiling sounds, to let Rachel know she’s hearing Zelda again. For Louis, the sound we associated with him was dripping blood, from when he lost Pascal. When he’s sitting at the traffic light, seeing the light flash and alternate, he hears the blood dripping, and he hears the same sound in the basement when he encounters Pascal for the last time.

      And then with the cat, Church, it was about finding a really distinctive sound for when he comes back. We fused his sound with the Wendigo, which had a scratchy shriek to it, like bones grinding together. So we made sure the cat’s growl and hiss sounded like a broken instrument. Everything had a theory behind it.

    • The idea of skepticism vs belief was a significant part of the film. Was that something you pulled from a particular source, or something you wanted to infuse into the movie?

    • In the book, they do disagree about what to tell the daughter, but I think there are moments when the dad talks about believing in God. And now in 2019, it seems more common that a man of science like him would not believe. So it seemed to be able to illustrate that those themes that were in the original 1983 book more clearly. 

    • If you see Starry Eyes, then you’ll know! We’re a big fan of body horror in all shapes and forms. There’s a body horror that stems out of you, and other types that are under the surface. That sort of tactile violence, like getting hair snagged, really puts you in the scene. And in this case, rather than overtly showing you how messed up something was from coming back, you’re seeing what’s being kept inside, the interior trauma. 

    • The twins playing Gage, Lucas and Hugo Lavoie, bore an uncanny resemblance to Miko Hughes from the 1989 film. How did you find these talented lookalikes?

    • It was just through auditions! And it was just a coincidence. We didn’t pick them based on that. Because Gage was no longer needed to vocalize as much, we went with a local hire in Montreal, so they were French-Canadian children. We were looking for twins, so you could use them throughout the film. It was limited to which sets of Montreal twins were available, and then they came in, they looked great for the role, and now everyone brings it up, that they really do resemble the other kid! But it was really coincidence, they were just the best for the job. It was almost like as we were trying to make our own vision of the movie, we didn’t like the strong resemblance at first - we wanted to have our own Gage. But in the end, they were the best option for the job, and we didn’t let that get in the way of them being cast. 

    • CAT PERSON TANGENT: As a cat person, I think it’s interesting that you went with a domestic longhair / Maine Coon cat to play Church, versus a purebred British shorthair in the original PET SEMATARY. I also love that your animal trainers Melissa Millett and Kirk Jarrett helped several rescue cats, most notably Leo and Tonic, bring the character to life. This direction brought a new sense of menace and matted fur realness to the pivotal cat as opposed to the more meme-able round-faced original. Are you cat people as well? What were the thoughts that went into the design direction and cat casting decisions?

    • I have owned both British shorthairs and Maine Coons. I had a British shorthair named Nigel who passed away not too long ago, and one of the grave markers in the film's cemetery has his name on it. In fact, all the cast and crew had made grave markers with names of their deceased pets. My parents still have a Maine Coon named Jax, and another Maine Coon cat before him called Barron, and Barron was a show cat, weighed 30 something pounds, and both of his parents were award-winning showcats. For us, it about going to the source, modeling our cat from the original book cover, which you’re right, it’s not necessarily a Maine Coon, you’re right, it’s a mix. I have a mixed Maine Coon cat right now that looks just like Church. We modeled our design off the hardcover book. And besides having a nice little nod to the fans with the original art, you can create effects with a long haired cat that aren't possible with a shorthaired cat, you could play up the matted fur feeling. And emphasizing the colors and contrast of the cat. We did use rescue cats to play Church, and it was hard to find four cats that looked similar. But they were all rescues, and they all found homes after filming.

    • Speaking of the cat, it was a particularly nice touch to explain Churchill’s name, with John Lithgow having played Winston Churchill in THE CROWN. Was that a fun scene to include? Are there any other Easter Eggs you can hint at?

    • Stephen King has tweeted his support for the film, and it’s so great to see audiences and reviewers alike reacting so positively. What have been some of the other reactions you’ve gotten that have been particularly rewarding?

    • I think people are appreciating the change. I think when we made the change to Ellie from Gage, a lot of people watching the trailer would react negatively just because it was different, or it wasn’t the way it was in their beloved book. But then when people watch the movie, and they see what you can do with it, what that change opens up, I’ve seen some of the people who didn’t like it at first like it. They change their minds and see the benefits of the switch when they see how it works in the movie. So those are my favorite tweets, my favorite reactions are when people embrace the change, when people see it created a rewarding experience for them. We are big fans of the original book, the original movie, and this is just a different take on it. And people are seeing it to be a worthy alternative version. 

    • And on the topic of Stephen King: with PET SEMATARY under your belt, are there any other books or stories by him that you’d love to bring to life?

    • Yeah, if they were going to re-adapt something, I think Firestarter would be a good one to re-adapt. Salem's Lot has never had a feature film adaptation, I’m a big fan of that book. The Tommyknockers, for me, even though it gets a lot of flack as a batshit novel, I love the book, it’s so scary and effective. It might just be nostalgia, as I read it at such a young age. But those would all be interesting.

    • I agree with those. I think Insomnia would be a good movie, that’s never been a movie. And I think there’s a lot of great stuff in all his collections. It’s funny, so many of his great movies that exist now from his books are based off his novellas. And there are a lot of novellas of his that have not been done from those same collections that Stand By Me and Shawshank Redemption came out of. Same with his short story collections.

    • Yes. My parents have outdoor cats, and I just don’t know how they do it. It’s a myth that cats are hemmed up inside, they are fine being inside, and they might even prefer it. I have 3 indoor cats, Kevin has 2, and whenever I go home to Long Island, New York and my parents can’t get the cats to come inside at night, it’s scary! So that’s one of the takeaways you can take from the film.

    •  I think one of the reasons we gravitate towards body horror, even in this film, Pet Sematary, with the Zelda visions or the transforming in this version, that’s something we tackle a lot in our films, and I think that’s a scary thing. Same with Pet Sematary being about death, something we are all gonna go through. For a lot of us, unless you’re in an accident or sudden illness, for most of us, the lead up to our death is going to be things like our body turning on us and aging as we get there. So it’s a scary thing to feel, even as me and Dennis are getting older, there are physical things like my eyesight is different, or my knees hurt sometimes, and it’s a scary thing to think of the body breaking down on you.