The premise of Pet Sematary: Bloodlines (Lindsey Anderson Beer’s directorial debut) is that there is a local Pet Sematary (misspelled by the kids who live nearby) and there is the Micmac Tribal Cemetery beyond the Pet Sematary and out past a deadfall the locals built to try and keep people out. Things buried in Micmac don’t stay dead for long.
As in previous movies, nobody has tried very hard to make the burial ground inaccessible. Certainly the deadfall isn’t working. But how about a sturdy fence? A tall wall? A security guard who lives in a shack nearby? Covering the entire area with four feet of cement might do the trick, too. I’m sure the writers could think of reasons why these safety measures cannot be put in place, but they never try to explain them to us.
The movie opens with Bill Baterman (David Duchovny) burying his son Timmy (Jack Mulhern) in the evil Pet Sematary way up in the woods behind the non-evil Pet Sematary. Within moments, Zombie-Timmy is back and ready to cause havoc. What we are supposed to believe is that Timmy came home from Vietnam in a box, was buried in the local cemetery, his body was stolen from the cemetery by his father, and none of this caught the attention of the police or the local paper. Even the news that Timmy has been killed in Vietnam must not have hit the local paper because everybody who runs into Timmy talks to him like he is just a normal, if a bit creepy, kid.
Rounding out the cast are a young Jud Crandall (Jackson White) – who is leaving town with his girlfriend, Norma (Natalie Alyn Lynd), to join the Peace Corps. Forrest Goodluck plays Manny, Jud’s best friend, and Donna (Isabella Star LaBlanc) is Manny’s sister. This relationship, Manny and Donna as brother and sister, is interestingly intelligent and their love and care for each other radiates throughout the story.
Jud’s father and mother are played by Henry Thomas and Samantha Mathis. Pam Grier is a descendant of the town’s founders who, along with four other families, are in charge of keeping people from being buried in Micmac, or to keep them from continuing to walk around when they should be dead. There are some pretty big missed opportunities with this cast; Grier, Mathis, and Duchovny might have thirty lines total between the three of them. Why they simply are not utilized is unfathomable.
For the purpose of plot, to keep Jud and Norma in town, a dog bites Norma’s arm. The wound looks bad, but Norma is told to stay in the hospital for “several” nights for observation. It is just too convenient, and too improbable to believe that you will need three days in the hospital for a dog bite that has been disinfected and stitched up. Also, it isn’t explained why, but the tiny town of Ludlow is home to the world’s largest hospital. Supposedly it is a scary hospital because of how big and empty it is, but it is just too open, bright, and airy to create any sense of foreboding.
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines spends the bulk of the second act giving us as little information as possible. There is a flashback to the 1600s that offers an opportunity to explain the mystery behind the burial ground, but the opportunity is not taken.
Then follows an astonishingly confusing third act. Somehow, over the past couple days, Zombie-Timmy has dug a complicated tunnel system not only beneath his house but it goes way out into the woods, too. No purpose for the tunnels is ever given. Why is Zombie-Timmy so into digging? During the tunnel sequence, we discover that Norma has been left somewhere in the tunnels and that water is rising and will drown her. How exactly did she get there? Why not just kill her outright? Also, she appears to free herself and just walk out. Where is the excitement in that?
- Five mini-documentaries on various aspects of the film:
- Origins – Cast and crew discuss Stephen King and the novel Pet Sematary.
- Fresh Blood – Cast and crew discuss casting choices.
- Death’s Design – The crew discusses production design.
- Method to the Madness – The crew give insights into some of the special effects.
- War Comes Home – Cast and crew discuss special effects and a couple cut scenes.
The scares are few and far between in Pet Sematary: Bloodlines. There are several unearned jump scares, a few moments of gore, a chase through some miraculous tunnels, but little to recommend it.