Stephen King adaptations do worse when they stray too far from the “Stephen King” of it all. Case in point: Pet Sematary: Bloodlines, a prequel to the 2019 Pet Sematary remake that is streaming on Paramount+ and getting absolutely savaged online by critics and fans alike.
That isn’t to say that anybody thought a film called Pet Sematary: Bloodlines, with almost nothing to do with its original source material, would be a huge hit or anything, but even for an ill-conceived cash-grab riding the coattails of a marquee name, Bloodlines is doing badly.
“It struggles to justify its existence thematically, posing questions about the nature of “home” and what it means and why we stay there and why we leave there, without following through on the idea.”John Serba, Decider
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines currently has an abysmal 20 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. The reviews range from “Sometimes, a dormant franchise is better,” a play on Pet Sematary‘s most famous line, “Sometimes, dead is better,” written by critic Aaron Neuwirth, to the downright scathing, “It struggles to justify its existence,” courtesy of critic John Serba.
Other critiques pointed out how tedious the film was, with one reviewer stating that the film’s jump scares amounted to little more than “sudden jolts of ghoulish carnage” with the sole purpose of making sure the audience doesn’t fall asleep.
Perhaps the best way to sum up the critical reception of Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is with the blunt words of the Guardian’s Benjamin Lee: “A prequel wanted by few and needed by none.” At least Lee was nice enough to pretend that someone actually wanted the movie.
“Not even the jump scares work, in other words, leaving little but sudden jolts of ghoulish carnage to keep the audience awake.”Katie Rife, RogertEbert.com
As for what horror fans thought of the new Pet Sematary, the simple answer is not much. A sample audience review for the film reads, “This was awful. Just…. awful.” Another viewer said watching paint dry would be preferable to watching Bloodlines. One audience review was just the word “worst,” followed by 15 ellipses.
“A prequel wanted by few and needed by none.”Benjamin Lee, The Guardian
This isn’t the first time somebody got the bright idea to make a bad sequel to Pet Sematary. The 1989 adaptation of Pet Sematary starring Fred Gwynne and Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Denise Crosby spawned a 1992 sequel, Pet Sematary Two.
Performances from future Krusty Krab owner Clancy Brown and T2‘s Edward Furlong weren’t enough to save the unpopular sequel, and it’s gone down in the annals of cinema as one of the worst follow-ups in horror movie history. It’s never a good idea to start people’s first impression of your film with a dumb title that spells out the word “two” for no apparent reason.
Sadly, Pet Sematary isn’t the only movie(s) based on a Stephen King book/short story to inspire a sequel(s) that has almost nothing to do with the source material. Lawnmower Man from 1992 had a 1995 sequel, Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace, that was so bad the studio couldn’t even get Jeff Fahey—star of Darkman III: Die Darkman Die—to return for it.
Sometimes They Comeback, a serviceable TV movie based on another of King’s short stories, led to not one, but two maligned sequels, 1996’s Sometimes They Come Back…Again and 1998’s Sometimes They Come Back For More. Meanwhile, Children of the Corn has had so many sequels and spinoffs they almost outnumber Nick Cannon’s children…almost.
We’d like to think that after all the negative words written to describe Pet Sematary: Bloodlines by critics and fans, studio execs will finally stop making sequels to Stephen King adaptations, but sadly that won’t happen. As long as Stephen King’s name still brings in the big bucks expect to see more bad horror flicks made to cash in on it.
Don’t be surprised when The Shining III: Get Rich or Die Shining gets announced…it’s only a matter of time.