Pet Sematary: Bloodlines movie review (2023)

David Duchovny and Pam Grier’s flat performances as townspeople burdened by an ancestral curse support the latter hypothesis. The only genuinely good turn in this movie comes from Forrest Goodluck (“The Revenant,” “How to Blow Up a Pipeline”), who plays Jud’s other boyhood BFF, Manny. Brief flashbacks to the boys sneaking beers in a treehouse do little to ground what’s supposedly a lifelong bond, and Goodluck’s character (as well as that of his sister, Donna, played by Isabella LaBlanc) seems to have been written into the film to lend authenticity to the Native lore in King’s novel. But he’s the best actor in the movie, which is lucky to have him. 

Muddy nighttime photography adds to the aura of an afternoon spent waiting at a bus stop wondering if it’s going to rain, and, oh look, a zombie dog. Ho hum. But the thing that really kills “Pet Sematary: Bloodlines” is the editing. Beer, who made her name writing the Netflix rom-com “Sierra Burgess is a Loser,” is new to the horror genre. But unlike some first-time horror helmers, she doesn’t show an intuitive knack for suspense or timing. As a result, the film drags on both its macro and micro levels. Not even the jump scares work, in other words, leaving little but sudden jolts of ghoulish carnage to keep the audience awake.

A couple of these are savage enough to temporarily knock “Bloodlines” out of its stupor, and there are a few good ideas buried in the muck of the screenplay. One is a brief flashback to 1674, on the land that would one day become Ludlow; this earth has been poisoned since the beginning, as it turns out, and the arrival of its white settlers only accelerated the evil. Somehow, the film’s 1674 is more convincing than its 1969, and the ideas being worked out in that brief segment are more compelling than the ones that make up the core narrative. But then it’s buried, and it doesn’t come back. Pity, that’s one time when resurrection would have been helpful. 

On Paramount+.