Pet Sematary: Bloodlines
October 3rd, 2023
MOVIE: PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES
STARRING: JACKSON WHITE, DAVID DUCHOVNY, HENRY THOMAS, SAMANTHA MATHIS, PAM GRIER
DIRECTED BY: LINDSEY ANDERSON BEER
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines can’t be accused of trying to do something against horror cinema. It’s another Stephen King adaptation, but this time it’s a prequel to all that took place in the 1989 classic, or is it the 2019 remake? What is certain is that director Lindsey Anderson Beer isn’t interested in reimagining the series, as much as she wants to dig deeper and give us a reason why the small town of Ludlow is haunted by the dead coming back to life. As far as achieving what it sets out to do? Bloodlines nails that effort, in a film that feels undeniably like a direct-to-streaming installment, but pushes past the standard shortcomings. Pet Sematary: Bloodlines digs into the dirt of the Stephen King classic and pulls out a solid horror movie.
The majority of film critics have seemed to dismiss this one. It started in 1969, with the Vietnam War impacting the people of Ludlow, Maine, a small town, with a single stop sign, where everyone knows everyone. We catch up with young Jud Crandall (Jackson White), one of the lucky men not drafted for the war, supporting his family farm, and hopefully leaving town for the Peace Corp. with his wife Lind (Natalie Alyn). His neighbors are good friends Manny (Forrest Goodluck) and Donna (Isabella LaBlanc). On the other side is Timmy Baterman (Jack Mulhern), who has just returned from war, what is evident is that Timmy is not the same, but no matter what his father Bill (David Duchovny) is happy to have him back in his new state…
What director Lindsey Beer is able to make work here- Beer also co-wrote the screenplay with an early treatment from Jeff Buhler- is by taking a part of the original Pet Sematary, where Jed tells the story of Timmy Baterman, going deeper into how the town of Ludlow has kept it secret that the dead don’t always stay dead. The supporting cast is a random assortment that elevates the material, including Henry Thomas and Samantha Mathis as Jed’s father and mother, and Pam Grier as a local willing to keep the secret safe. It works because the cast is game and the concept is scary enough to keep us intrigued. Where Bloodlines falters is that it lacks enough memorable moments, offering instead a collection of scenes that can feel no different than the next.
There is also no singular performance to cling to, nor a highlight similar to the original, making for the story to leave your mind as soon as it ends. What is memorable, however, are the set designs, and a few moments of projectile blood, giving you enough horror to wet your October season whistle. Similar to Totally Killer, there is a joy to be had about an old-school type of production, the kind of film that would have played late on HBO, but now goes unnoticed on another standard streaming service.
That puts me on the more positive side than most for Pet Sematary: Bloodlines. It’s the type of installment that will fit nicely in the box-set and it can be a successful first run for Lindsey Anderson Beer. Yes, I wanted it to be great, but this may have been the best that Bloodlines could get. It’s middle-of-the-road horror but what the Pet Sematary series does is find all sorts of ways to come back from the dead. You just can’t keep an old dog down.
PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES PREMIERES ON PARAMOUNT+ ON FRIDAY OCTOBER 6TH, 2023.
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady