Another direct-to-streaming movie that caught my attention this season was the “Pet Sematary” prequel. The story is not based on any of Stephen King’s previous work but is associated with events prior to the original film. We find Jud Crandal preparing for the Peace Corps in 1969, ready to leave the town of Ludlow behind. But his friend Timmy returns from the war before his departure. Jud notices that something is off about Timmy’s behavior. After investigating, Jud finds out that Timmy may be a victim of the ancient evil that has plagued Ludlow for years…where sometimes dead is better left dead.
I decided to check this one out on a rainy day. The hype and intrigue weren’t super high as my interest in the “Pet Sematary” franchise is moderate. Prequels often create convoluted lore and explanations to questions that audiences weren’t asking. Sometimes the unknown is the most powerful tool to build lore. But I’ll give “Bloodlines” credit, the story it builds is actually quite interesting. The idea of an old town containing the evil surrounding their land has lots of potential to explore. There is a lot of history associated with Ludlow and the possibilities to expand the mythology are vast. This entry begins what could be a few films leading into the original. The fact that the parents of our main characters are hiding deep, dark secrets from their children builds curiosity with the audience. I was constantly wondering where the story would go next. The intrigue was certainly there!
The performances are pretty good for a small budget streaming movie. A combination of veteran actors teaming up with some new faces provided a nice dynamic between the two groups. The film doesn’t disrespect the original story and actually makes it more interesting. Gore and violence aren’t lacking either. It’s not my favorite attribute of the film but I’m sure others will enjoy. There are some cool set pieces that add to the setting as well. There are some cool masks worn by the Native American characters that were crafted to symbolize the animals in the cemetery. The correlation of their impact to the greater message in the movie didn’t fully come together, but they were a nice touch. It really felt like the characters were back in the time period based on references made and the production of the film. I commend the filmmakers for making the most of the smaller budget.
Much like the original film, “Bloodlines” fizzled out the longer it went on. In fact, if it were any longer my review would have skewed negative. I’ve come to the conclusion that the premise is more interesting than the full story. Some of this could be due to the execution, but in general each movie becomes silly by the end. The zombie like behavior of the resurrected characters came across as corny at times. But this could be a “me” problem as zombies aren’t my favorite subgenre of horror.
“Bloodlines” also suffers from a small production budget, so unfortunately the film isn’t as polished as it could be. It definitely has a made-for-TV aesthetic. Some sequences felt oddly edited and transitioned in a way that felt too quick. If another movie gets green lit, giving it a theatrical release and a larger budget would help. After all, it’s a Stephen King property. Capitalize on the big name!
“Pet Sematary: Bloodlines” is a movie that will come and pass, likely to be forgotten shortly after watching. That being said, its not bad. There are some interesting ideas explored, building upon the cool concept established in the first film. But like the first, it isn’t altogether satisfying. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but if the trailer was intriguing…give it a watch. Just don’t expect it to reinvent the franchise.