2023 / Lindsey Anderson Beer / Paramount+ / R
A Rundown of Pet Sematary: Bloodlines
The film is set in 1969, 50 years before the 2019 remake, and Jud Crandall is prepared to leave his childhood home of Ludlow. Unfortunately, for Jud, the town's dark past rears its ugly head in the form of a dog attack. Jud quickly comes to his girlfriend's aid, but he's shocked by his old friend's lack of involvement, especially considering that the dog belongs to Jud's old pal Timmy Baterman. "He just stood there." Jud later says when reflecting on the attack. Timmy has been different after returning from the Vietnam War, but something seems seriously wrong with him. He's making kill lists and drawing spirals with blood.
If you're familiar with the idea behind Stephen King's novel Pet Sematary then you can infer that Timmy, and his dog, have been buried in the notorious Mi'kmaq burial grounds on the outskirts of town. Jud seeks out Manny, a native American, to help him figure out what's wrong with their buddy, Timmy. Jud digs deeper into the mysteries of his hometown only to discover generational obligations to snuff the evil coming from the soil of the Pet Sematary.
The Team Behind Pet Sematary: Bloodlines
The plot utilized in Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is based loosely on a single chapter from the Stephen King novel Pet Sematary. The film does stray from the novel, but that's to be expected when you're only working with a chapter. This being Lindsay Anderson Beer's first and only directorial credit is shocking, and having just discovered that I now have more admiration for the film. Jackson White, who plays Jud, has a few acting credits but nothing I'm familiar with. I can't help but think that he would make an awesome Superman. The young actor who plays Manny is Forrest Goodluck. Forrest played Hugh Glass's son Hawk in one of my favorite films of all time, The Revenant. The antagonist of this film (Timmy) is played by Jack Mulhern, who does a fantastic job of creeping out the audience. And then there's Jackie Brown's own Pam Grier, who is always a delight to see. I wish I could say the same for David Duchovny, but his performance feels phoned in. I'm a big fan of Duchovny, especially his leading roles in X-Files, and Californication, but perhaps he should have passed on this script.
Jake's Take on Pet Sematary: Bloodlines
This film made me anxious. I found myself uneasy at the thought of family violence, and suicide, but honestly, I think that means this film has more of a likelihood of living rent-free in my head. I watched this film hunkered down in a large tent with my fiance's family. We could hear the crickets and coyotes outside wandering the night. I feared that they would find us and that maybe we had a Pet Sematary nearby... Then I realized I had eaten an edible and at about the hour mark, I snapped out of my anxiety attack.
I began analyzing the scriptwriting, the dialogue, and the acting. There are weird cuts in the film, that try to explain everything. From flashbacks to character motives, we don't necessarily need these flashes, I believe it to be lazy. There's also no explanation as to why the baddies bury Jud's girlfriend, Norma, under the Baterman home. There are also characters that get injured and then ignore those injuries completely, I get how adrenaline works, but speaking from a story perspective, what was the point of having the character get the injury in the first place? Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is also guilty of wanting to answer every question in the Pet Sematary mythos.
Despite my issues with this installment of the franchise, I had fun. I wish that maybe this was a film that could stand on its own merits and not borrow the Pet Sematary name, but that's not the world we live in. The town of Ludlow feels homey. The Pet Sematary is frightening, and the characters do develop over the course of the story, especially the hidden hero, Manny. As we near the credits we witness exactly how Jud came to be sitting on his porch, and that almost feels worth the journey. Watch this film as if it's an original idea, and perhaps have company over that way anytime someone in the film says "Timmy" everyone in the room can yell "TIMMAAAYYYY!"