Pet Semetary: Bloodlines (2023) Movie Review – A disjointed mess that should have been left dead

A disjointed mess that should have been left dead

We now have four Pet Semetary films to watch this Halloween season, and one of them is the newest release over on Paramount+. Pet Semetary: Bloodlines is a prequel to the original film that takes place back in 1969 and is about Jud Carnell (Jackson White) and his girlfriend Norma (Natalie Alan Lynn) trying to leave behind the town of Ludlow, Maine, to go join the peace-corps.

But the clean getaway from the cursed town they grew up in is halted as a generational curse that has plagued the underbelly of the town keeps Jud around a little while longer than planned.

You know what you’re getting in a Pet Semetary film by now. A death is going to happen, and knowledge of the ancient burial ground is going to weave its way into the plot. And someone is going to be possessed by the evil that lurks in Ludlow, you just never know how it is going to get there.

And yet Bloodlines actually plays on a great real element that would have been prominent in 1969: coming home from the Vietnam War and having PTSD. Although that is not really in the plot of the film, it feels like the movie is touching on the themes of life after war and returning to a small town through the character of Timmy Baterman (Jack Mulhern).

However, since it’s a horror film, saying Timmy has PTSD isn’t going to work; we need to have a metaphor for it. Hence, he is the evil vessel that terrorizes the town and is clearly not himself, as he makes appearances around other people in the area.

Timmy is the newest to be resurrected from the dead by his father Bill (David Duchovny), nodding to the fact that Timmy came home from the war alive; but could not handle the adjustment, and he hung himself. Bill brought his son to the ancient burial ground and revived what he thinks was his son.

Timmy’s appearance comes as a shock to Jud, as the two of them are estranged friends from when they were younger. The pair were also friends with a third character, Manny (Forrest Goodluck). Thus, this creates the tension and drama of three former friends who are at odds with one another, but a bigger issue is at play.

Pet Semetary: Bloodlines has this interesting thing going for it. It has all the right elements of making a good horror film by streaming standards, and yet it’s not a good horror film by any stretch of the imagination. There’s nothing scary about it, although it does expand on the world Stephen King created in his story, showing us the lineage of the families in Ludlow, Maine, and how they all have to look after the town’s hidden secrets.

It even brings back frequent actor of King adaptations Henry Thomas as Jud’s father Dan. A man who can’t get his son out of town fast enough for his own good. And yet, he can’t even have this movie.

Bloodlines has something going for it, though. It’s all about family; all three of the lead characters have a family member in a supporting role who is close to them. Timmy has his father; Judd has his father; and Manny has his sister Donna (Isabella Star Leblanc).

Donna and Manny’s bond feels like the one with the most substance to it, and being that they are both descendants of the indigenous people of the region, you can tell the characters are there to rectify the “Native American Burial Ground” part of this film instead of having it all star white people.

There is a lot of disjointedness in the movie, which also hurts the horror in it. It makes you wonder if there was a better film in the editing room somewhere. Upon seeing the runtime for this and then feeling like you blinked and its half over, definitely hurts its prospects. The scenes in it don’t progress the narrative forward at all. Thus, the movie has an uninspired climax that is just nothing for the audience to care about. There are no jump scares, a sorry attempt at a scary animal, and an underused David Duchovny and Pam Grier in the cast.

You knew that if this movie received horrible reviews, the tagline for it would come back and haunt it. So here it goes: some things are better left dead, just like the Pet Semetary franchise.


Read More: Pet Semetary: BloodlinesĀ Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 4/10

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