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Sunday, September 24, 2023

‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines’ Fantastic Fest Review – Prequel Favors Scares Over Story

In Stephen King’s 1983 horror novel Pet Sematary, long-term Ludlow resident Jud Crandall relays some of the town’s lengthy history with the cursed burial ground that resurrects the dead to nightmarish results. Pet Sematary: Bloodlines, the prequel to the 2019 remake, explores some of that history without any purpose other than to deliver entertaining jolts and a potent reminder that Jud Crandall was right: sometimes dead is better.

Writer/Director Lindsey Anderson Beer, sharing writing credits with Jeff Buhler, sets the prequel in 1969 to introduce a young Jud Crandall (Jackson White), who seeks to leave Ludlow behind with his longtime sweetheart Norma (Natalie Alyn Lind). Never mind that Jud can’t figure out why he’s managed to evade all the Vietnam war drafts; there’s an unspoken sickness rotting the roots of Ludlow, an evil desperate to spread across the town. Jud learns firsthand about the evil when Bill (David Duchovny) buries his son Timmy Baterman (Jack Mulhern) in the cursed burial ground.

Jackson White pet sematary

Jackson White stars in PARAMOUNT+ Presents A PARAMOUNT+ ORIGINAL MOVIE In Association with PARAMOUNT PLAYERS
A di BONAVENTURA PICTURES Production “PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES”

Beer wastes not a precious second getting the horror going. The dead get resurrected straightaway before the story pauses briefly to introduce key players, then quickly resumes to barrel through the horror. Bloodlines dangles themes of generational burden, of how Ludlow’s founding members and their brush with evil created a heavy burden upon their ancestors. However, it never stops long enough to explore them. That also applies to Jud’s desire to break free from Ludlow and the privilege he’s been afforded in escaping the draft thanks to a doting dad (Henry Thomas) and mom (Samantha Mathis).

Loud, abrupt aural jump scares become the default tool employed to keep audiences on edge. While the sudden blast of a truck horn as it barrels down a quiet street effectively lands its intended jolt, it can’t compensate for the lack of atmosphere and tension. The Timmy Baterman story in the source novel is a skin-crawling, creepy piece of Ludlow’s history. In Bloodlines, Mulhern doesn’t play Timmy as a hollow shell awkwardly puppeteering by a sinister force, but more like a volatile man with a broken mind shattered by war and violence.

Pet Sematary Bloodlines David Duchovny

David Duchovny, left, and Jack Mulhern in PARAMOUNT+ Presents A PARAMOUNT+ ORIGINAL MOVIE In Association with PARAMOUNT PLAYERS
A di BONAVENTURA PICTURES Production “PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES”

The more the narrative fills in the blanks of the source story, the less it fits into the overarching storyline. It’s a prequel that doesn’t care much for tidy canon; its aim is to use these familiar characters and the setting’s inherent familiarity to induce scares. That’s not helped by the quick cuts and editing that give a strong sense that much of this choppy story was left on the editing room floor, leaving the CliffNotes version as the final cut. Minor plot threads get left by the wayside, and some wrap up in a blink. When all is said and done, the prequel does nothing to connect this younger iteration of Jud to his older years. Bloodlines also egregiously underutilizes Duchovny and the always-magnetic Pam Grier.

A brief sequence that travels back even further in Ludlow’s history livens up the proceedings and teases a more interesting prequel, but overall, Bloodlines is content to coast by on familiar simplicity to introduce a series of sinister encounters and violence. Beer navigates these horror sequences well and delivers plenty of surprisingly gory moments and deaths. The horror techniques and compelling supporting performances from Forrest Goodluck and Henry Thomas ensure that Bloodlines offers sufficient spooky season fun for those with no attachment to King’s story. But Constant Readers and fans of the source material will find themselves muttering, “Sometimes dead is better.”

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines premiered at Fantastic Fest and releases exclusively on Paramount+ on October 6.

2.5 out of 5 skulls

The post ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines’ Fantastic Fest Review – Prequel Favors Scares Over Story appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3780624/pet-sematary-bloodlines-fantastic-fest-review-prequel-favors-scares-over-story/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pet-sematary-bloodlines-fantastic-fest-review-prequel-favors-scares-over-story

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