Premiering on Paramount+ beginning October 6th is ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines,’ which is based on the classic novel by Stephen King and is a prequel to 2019’s ‘Pet Sematary.’ The movie also marks the feature film directorial debut for writer Lindsey Anderson Beer (‘Sierra Burgess Is a Loser’).
What is the plot of ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines’?
In 1969, a young Jud Crandall (Jackson White) has dreams of leaving his hometown of Ludlow, Maine behind, but soon discovers sinister secrets buried within and is forced to confront a dark family history that will forever keep him connected to Ludlow. Banding together, Jud and his childhood friends must fight an ancient evil that has gripped Ludlow since its founding, and once unearthed has the power to destroy everything in its path.
“Death is different here”
In 1969, a young Jud Crandall has dreams of leaving his hometown of Ludlow, Maine behind, but soon discovers sinister secrets buried within and is forced to confront… Read the Plot
Who is in the cast of ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines’?
Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with filmmaker Lindsey Anderson Beer about her work on ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines,’ the new story, creating a ‘Pet Sematary’ prequel, balancing her dual roles as writer and director, how her previous work as a writer informed her directing, shifting the story’s timeline, Stephen King Easter eggs, and what King himself thought of the new film.
Moviefone: To begin with, how would you describe the plot of this prequel to our audience?
Lindsey Anderson Beer: ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines’ is a prequel to Stephen King’s book ‘Pet Sematary.’ It’s set in 1969, and it tells the origin story of Jud Crandall, who is the beloved character, played brilliantly by Fred Gwynne in the original, and then John Lithgow in the most recent movie. It’s also an origin story for (the town of) Ludlow itself. We get to learn a lot more about where that spooky evil comes from.
MF: Not only did you co-write the movie, but it also marks your directorial debut. Did you ever have the experience of writing a sequence that you were very happy with on paper, but then found difficult to actually execute on set?
LAB: “Directing me,” much like “showrunning me,” is now much more cognizant of what’s great on the page versus what’s actually practical and realistic. So yes, I would say that anything that I have started to write post-directing, I’m much more mindful of what that would actually take to pull off.
MF: Can you talk about how your past experience as a writer and showrunner prepared you to direct this film?
LAB: I think on the writing side, just being open to an iterative process. I know that there are some directors who feel very much like, “Okay, what I’ve laid out and what’s on the page, that’s exactly what we have to shoot.” But for me, I’m always looking at, “Oh, what’s the more interesting and beautiful angle based off of this location?” Or, “What’s the more interesting moment based off how this actor is delivering this line?” I get really energized by the iterative, almost alchemical reaction that you get in a real life scenario, in a real location with real people. I think allowing actors and crew the breathing room to shift things around a little and look for the best thing, not just the thing that you agreed upon before, is exciting.
Related Article: David Duchovny, Pam Grier and More Appear in the First Pictures of ‘Pet Sematary: Bloodlines’
MF: The movie contains a flashback that acts as an origin story for the town of Ludlow. Can you talk about developing that sequence and were there more scenes that you shot that you were unable to include?
LAB: I shot so much stuff that we could make a 1600s prequel. I actually keep trying to get Paramount to release a featurette or something because we’ve got so much great material from that time period, and it was some of my favorite stuff to shoot because that forest was so beautiful, brutal and it’s just really interesting stuff. The scene work and the nature of the story of what happened there was very different in my drafts. But Jeff Buhler, the first writer, is the one who originally came up with the idea to show the 1600s. I got to run with it and show more of this idea of Ludlow. The settler is something that I came up with and just wanted to show the original sin from the original settler.
MF: There are several Stephen King Easter eggs in the movie, including Jim’s Diner, which has already been revealed. Can you tease any other Easter eggs that King fans can keep an eye out for?
LAB: When Marjorie is on the phone, pause the screen.
MF: Was there anything specific from King’s original novel that was really important for you to include in this movie?
LAB: Yeah, there were a few things. First of all, the way that King describes Timmy, he says that Timmy knew everybody’s darkest secrets and would kind of taunt them with the darkest sides of them, and this notion that this is an entity that really likes playing with its food. It made me think about Church, the cat from the original, and how King describes it playing with dead animals or catching birds and toying with it before it kills it. I thought that was very interesting and reminded me a little bit of ‘The Silence of the Lambs.’ But just that psychological notion was really interesting to me and I definitely wanted to capture it. Another thing that was interesting that I thought we needed to capture from the book was even just the notion that Jud’s encounter with Timmy is why the evil is targeting him as an older man, which is not something that’s explained in any of the other movies. Also, just the notion that this entity, this evil whispers to you and gets in your head and makes you do things that you shouldn’t do. I think a lot of people complain about Jud’s actions when he’s an older man like, “Oh, if he knows what’s going to happen, why does he tell Louis about this sour ground?” The answer in the book at least, and to me that I wanted to make more clear is it whispers to you and it gets in your head, and Jud fights it off most of his life, but it gets to him when he is older.
MF: Can you talk about changing the ‘Pet Sematary’ timeline slightly and setting the movie in the late 60’s with the backdrop of the Vietnam war?
LAB: So when the project started with the producers and with the first writer, Jeff Buhler, they had shifted the timeline to match their 2019 film. Then when I came aboard, I didn’t think of the movie as a prequel to the 2019 film or any one film. I thought of it as a prequel to the book, but I really wanted to keep that shift in timeline because I just thought that the Vietnam War and the timeline served much better as kind of a metaphor for everything that was going on in the book. I also feel like it’s kind of a sister decade to what we’re going through now in terms of the disillusionment that we’re all facing. I thought there was a real relatability to that. So I thought it was kind of the perfect setting to highlight and heighten the themes of ‘Pet Sematary.’ So I really wanted to dig into that.
MF: Finally, Stephen King has seen the movie and seems to be happy with it, and of course this is the man who famously didn’t like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining.’ How gratifying is it to know that he really likes your movie?
LAB: I do. I feel so relieved and gratified. It’s his baby, and so I feel like I’m just glad that he feels like we did right by it and that he loves it as much as we do. So of course, that’s everything to me as a Stephen King fan.
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