Wednesday , May 22 2024
Pet Sematary

Fantastic Fest Film Review: ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines’ Goes Back to the Beginning

Some stories keep coming back, no matter how many times they are buried. So it is with Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. This time, however, there’s a twist.

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines screened at Fantastic Fest at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar in Austin, Texas. Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializes in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action and unusual films from all around the world. Variety included Fantastic Fest in a list of “10 Film Festivals We Love” and Moviemaker Magazine cited it as one of the “25 coolest film festivals.”

The Source

The Pet Sematary films arise out of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, which he first drafted in 1979. Published in 1983, it won a World Fantasy Award for Best Novel in 1984. Two movies followed, in 1989 and in 2019.

Pet Sematary

King had a very personal inspiration for the story. In 1979, he and his family rented a house in Maine while he was teaching at the University of Maine. The house was next to a major roadway and his daughter’s cat was struck by a vehicle and killed. He explained to his daughter what happened and buried the cat. Several days later he wondered what would happen if the cat came back to life, but spiritually different.

The Twist

Writer/Director Lindsey Anderson Beer, during a Q&A after the screening, explained how she had wanted to make a Pet Sematary film for years. She had first been exposed to the story when she was about nine years old.

Pet Sematary
Writer/Director Lindsey Anderson Beer, during a Q&A after the screening, (Photo by Jack Plunkett, Fantastic Fest)

Rather than remake the two previous films, she chose to go to a chapter in the book which had been overlooked in the earlier versions. We meet the character Jud Crandall, first played by Fred Gwynne, then in the remake by John Lithgow, but here portrayed at a much younger age, in the 1960s. Jud plans to leave town with his girlfriend to join the Peace Corps.

At that point Jud, played by Jackson White (Tell Me Lies, Mrs. Fletcher) has no idea about the cursed ground of the pet cemetery. The audience follows him on his horrifying journey of discovery. Lindsey Beer even takes us back to the 1700s when colonialists were warned by Native Americans about the supernatural powers hidden in the ground.

Pet Sematary
Jackson White as Jud Crandall

Cast a Spell

Two surprises in the casting added to the enjoyment of the film.

David Duchovny brought his X-Files mystique with him to the character Bill. Bill’s son was one of Jud’s buddies growing up. Unlike Jud, Bill’s son went to Vietnam. This creates a tension between Bill and Jud. Bill knows about the powers buried beneath the town and uses them. His actions ignite the crisis which changes Jud’s life.

Pet Sematary
Pam Grier’s character hunting the evil

The second casting surprise comes in the form of Pam Grier of Foxy Brown and Jackie Brown fame. Grier plays Majorie, who brings some needed firepower assistance to Jud.

Dig It?

If Pet Sematary: Bloodlines sounds like something you’d like, you can see it beginning Friday, October 6, exclusively on Paramount+ in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Brazil, and Saturday, October 7 in all other Paramount+ international markets. The trailer is linked below.

For the latest Fantastic Fest developments, visit its website and follow the fest on Instagram, Facebook, and X/Twitter.

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

Check Also

Nightmare Weekend: Tim Reid on ‘Stephen King’s IT’

At GalaxyCon's first horror convention, actor Tim Reid revisited 'Stephen King's IT' and teased his latest business venture, LGCY TV.