The Movie Waffler New Release Review - PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES | The Movie Waffler


Pet Sematary: Bloodlines review
young Jud Crandall discovers an animal graveyard and its unique powers.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Lindsey Anderson Beer

Starring: Jackson White, Forrest Goodluck, Jack Mulhern, Henry Thomas, Natalie Alyn Lind, Isabella Star LaBlanc, Samantha Mathis, Pam Grier, David Duchovny

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines poster

With 2019's Pet Sematary proving a surprise hit, it's no surprise that Stephen King's tale has been resurrected once again for a prequel. Sometimes dead is better, and Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is the sort of prequel that adds nothing of note to the mythology and actually detracts from the subsequent film by adding elements that create future inconsistencies.

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines review

The prequel takes us back to 1969 and the cursed town of Ludlow in King's beloved state of Maine. Jud Crandall, who was played by John Lithgow in the 2019 film, is a teen here, played by Jackson White. Jud wants to serve his country but doesn't fancy joining the army and so enlists in the Peace Corps with his girlfriend Norma (Natalie Alyn Lind). It seems to be a chance to get out of Ludlow, but fate has other ideas for the young couple. While leaving town they come across a dog belonging to Timmy (Jack Mulhern), an estranged friend of Jud who was unlucky enough to be drafted for Vietnam.

When they take the mangy mutt back to the farm owned by Timmy's father, Bill (David Duchovny), they're surprised to find Timmy has returned from Nam. But something's not right with Timmy, who looks like a zombie. Timmy says a lot of mean-spirited things to Jud and refuses to intervene when his dog attacks Norma, leading to her hospitalisation. Timmy came back from Nam alright, but in a wooden box, and his dad buried him in the old Mic Mac cemetery. You know how this goes.

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines review

Further backstory is presented by a 17th century flashback that gives us a glimpse of the bloody circumstances of the town's founding, which as you might suspect involved the screwing over of the native population. Forrest Goodluck and Isabella Star LaBlanc are cast as an indigenous brother and sister in 1969 but while the movie seems aware of the relevance of Native Americans to the story it doesn't seem to know what to do with these characters, who just come off as more tokenism. Wouldn't it have made more sense for the Timmy character to be Native American?

The film bears little resemblance to the previous incarnations of Pet Semetary and has more in common with John Carpenter's The Fog, with six descendants of the town's founders targeted by vengeful spirits. With the undead Timmy clad in his combat fatigues, the movie is clearly influenced by Bob Clark's underseen 1974 chiller Deathdream, in which a young soldier returns to his family despite being killed in action in Vietnam. Come to think of it, Clark's film may have been an influence on King's story.

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines review

Bloodlines pales in comparison to the sort of films it's attemping to evoke, and never manages to generate the sort of ticking clock tension such films thrive on. It also doesn't make sense for Jud Crandall to experience the horrors of the burial ground and then introduce it to a newcomer so he can bring his dog back to life decades later. But perhaps Bloodlines' biggest crime is the wasted casting of Pam Grier as a post-mistress who seems set up to play a heroic role only to disappear in unseemly fashion. If you're going to cast Grier you have to make her a badass. I'm pretty sure there's a law about that.

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is on Paramount+ from October 6th.

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