December 21, 2023

PET SEMATARY: BLOODLINES: Not Bad for a Pointless Prequel

2023 / 87 min
Available at
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

For a wholly unnecessary prequel to a remake no one was asking for in the first place, I guess Pet Sematary: Bloodlines ain’t bad. This one skipped theaters altogether and premiered on Paramount+, which was a wise decision. Had it been given a theatrical release, I suspect most horror fans would feel justifiably ripped off. 

But at home, where expectations are generally lower, the film is watchable without ever wowing and just short enough not to wear out its welcome.

The story takes a brief flashback sequence from Stephen King’s story and pads it out to feature length. It’s 1969, and young Jud Crandall (John Lithgow’s character from Pet Sematary) is getting ready to leave town with girlfriend Norma to join the Peace Corps. However, nasty doings at the ol’ ancient burial ground keep that from happening. Childhood friend Timmy - killed in Vietnam - is buried and resurrected by his grieving father, Bill.

"It's been three miles. I don't think he really has to go."
Of course, he’s not quite the same Timmy. But unlike the original story, those brought back from the dead are part of some kind of spiritual vendetta against the town founders and their descendants, who have been keeping the burial ground a dark secret. That’s a lot more backstory than a movie like this really needs. What made the original concept viscerally unnerving was that loved loves simply returned as monsters, not vessels for an entity with an agenda.

Before descending into a slasher/zombie film during the final act, there are some attempts at atmosphere, a few good death scenes and decent overall performances. Like a lot of direct-to-video horror flicks, the biggest names in the cast (David Duchovny, Pam Grier & Henry Thomas) have mostly thankless supporting roles. 

Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is never particularly scary, but despite demystifying everything with a lot of clunky exposition, it’s far from the worst pointless prequel ever made. Both the Blu-ray and 4K transfers look great, but those considering a blind buy might want to catch the movie elsewhere first just to see it's anything they'd feel compelled to revisit.


FEATURETTES - Origins (interviews with cast & crew); Fresh Blood (focuses on characters new to the franchise); Death’s Design (costumes & production design); Method to the Madness (Hey! Dogs!); War Comes Home (featurette about the making of the climax).


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