'Pet Sematary: Bloodlines' review: Sometimes dead is better
Courtesy of Paramount+
An aimless streaming prequel that was greenlit in a bygone era where studios were dusting the cobwebs off any IP to lure subscribers, “Pet Sematary: Bloodlines” should take its own dialogue to heart in that “Sometimes dead is better.” Which is what a young Jud Crandall (Jackson White) says in one of those brooding opening voice overs, suggesting dark and ominous things are going to transpire over the next 90 minutes.
Being released in time to capitalize on the spooky season and trying to ride the coattails of the semi-successful 2019 remake of the popular Stephen King novel, “Bloodlines” attempts at expanding the scope of this world come across as cheap explorations with no real purpose or atmosphere. In fact, the remake was only fast tracked because the author saw a major resurgence following the colossal box office returns of “It: Chapter One,” which to this day is still the highest grossing horror film of all time. So now making a prequel, trying to fill in the novel’s narrative gaps, is even more jarring and writer-director Lindsey Anderson Beer can’t steer the ship into memorable waters.
Set in the late 1960s amid a backdrop of the Vietnam war in Ludlow, Maine, it follows a young Crandall (White) who is trying to get out of the small town with his girlfriend and join the Peace Corps. But the town is cursed, and supernatural elements keep them around long enough to discover a deeper family lineage connected to a nearby cemetery. Secrets that are unleashed when Jud’s childhood pal returns from the war and his father (David Duchovny) makes an ill-fated decision.
The story takes many leaps and bounds, especially with a trip back to the 1670s regarding colonialists and stolen land before switching gears and making uninspired points about the Vietnam war. It’s an interesting idea Beer and co-writer Jeff Buhler try connecting, but it never adds up. As does a silly third act where residents of the town assemble as if they’re Avengers ready to take on Thanos. At the end of the day, aside from the occasional jump scare or bloody mutilation, “Bloodlines” never makes a convincing argument for its existence.
Sometimes dead is better.
PET SEMETARY: BLOODLINES hits Paramount+ Friday, October 6th.