Pet Sematary: Bloodlines

Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any streaming offers for Pet Sematary: Bloodlines.

Sometimes the joke is so obvious that it irritates people. There’s more to “Sometimes dead is better” than the famous remark from “Pet Sematary,” which is frequently uttered with a comedic imitation of a Maine accent. It also makes for a witty title debating the merits of an uninteresting prequel to a mediocre remake of a middle-of-the-road Stephen King movie (no insult to Mary Lambert, who helmed the 1989 version). And that’s problematic because many critics will almost surely find it difficult to resist the urge to go for the quick quip. However, it might not be worth the effort to come up with a better line for a movie like this.

“Pet Sematary: Bloodlines” shifts the action back to Ludlow, Maine, around 1969, a risky choice for an obviously low-budget prequel that was probably motivated by the popularity of “X” early last year. Since then, there have been a number of Vietnam-era horror movies. Director Lindsey Anderson Beer and screenwriter Jeff Buhler, an expert in ineffective horror franchise schlock, collaborated on the writing. Jeff Buhler also wrote the screenplay for the 2019 adaptation of “Pet Sematary.” The movie’s duty-bound, though uninteresting, attempt to flesh out the mythology surrounding old Jud Crandall and the Mi’kmaq burial site that brings back the dead.

The protagonist of “Bloodlines” is Jud (Jackson White), a restless teen trying to get away from Ludlow. With the aid of his lover Norma (Natalie Alyn Lind), who has persuaded him to join her for a term in the Peace Corps in distant Michigan, he is about to do just that as the story opens. However, their departure is only momentary when Norma is brutally mauled by a dog belonging to Jud’s childhood buddy Timmy (Jack Mulhern) as they leave the city. Jud mutters to himself next to Norma’s hospital bed, “He just stood there,” as he is troubled by his friend’s response to the attack. In retrospect, there are other things about Timmy that have been strange since he returned from the war.

The best praise one can pay to a squirrely freak in a fatigue jacket is that “Bloodline”‘s” portrayal of Timmy has a whiff of Edwin Neal’s “Hitchhiker” character from “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” But sadly, it’s just a hint. While “Bloodline” suggests that Timmy’s behavior is the result of being possessed by a malicious spirit, it is more likely a reflection of an underdeveloped performance. Instead of being a walking representation of PTSD, this movie’s version of the condition is more like a mindless Terminator-style killing machine.

The latter theory is supported by David Duchovny and Pam Grier’s unimpressive performances as local residents cursed by a family curse. Forrest Goodluck, who has previously been in “How to Blow Up a Pipeline” and “The Revenant,” plays Manny, another of Jud’s childhood friends, and he provides the only genuinely good performance in this film. Brief flashbacks of the boys sharing beers in a treehouse don’t do much to solidify their supposedly lifelong friendship, and Goodluck’s character (along with that of his sister Donna, played by Isabella LaBlanc) seems to have been added to the movie to give the Native American lore in King’s book some level of authenticity. However, he is the film’s best actor, so it is fortunate to have him.

The atmosphere of a day spent at a bus stop wondering if it will rain and, oh look, a zombie dog, is enhanced by the murky dark photography. Ho hum. However, “Pet Sematary: Bloodlines” is greatly ruined by the editing. Beer, who achieved fame as the author of the Netflix rom-com “Sierra Burgess is a Loser,” is fresh to the horror subgenre. However, unlike some newcomers to the horror genre, she doesn’t exhibit a natural talent for suspense or timing. The effect is that the movie drags both at the macro and micro levels. In other words, not even the jump scares are effective, leaving only brief bursts of ghastly carnage to keep the viewer awake.

A few of these are brutal enough to briefly shake “Bloodlines” out of its slumber, and there are a few good concepts hidden in the screenplay’s mire. The first takes place in a brief flashback in 1674 on the territory that would one day become Ludlow; it turns out that this earth has been poisoned from the beginning, and the entrance of its white inhabitants simply exacerbated the evil. The themes being explored in that small section of the movie are more interesting than those that make up the main plot, and somehow, 1674 feels more convincing than 1969. But after that, it is buried and vanishes forever. Sadly, there was a situation where resurrection might have been beneficial.

within Paramount+.

Leave a Comment