[Review] Pet Sema--er, Graveyard

Oooh boy. If this was the 90s, I would love to be a Blockbuster employee, setting this little gem out on the shelf. Knowing that someone would see the picture of a cat and the word “Pet” and immediately grab it, thinking it was Pet Sematary. You know this would happen.

And I suppose it probably will happen now, too. Someone will be skimming through Vudu or iTunes and this image will show up on their screen. And maybe they won’t realize it’s spelled grammatically correct. Or that it says Graveyard. And their life will be rocked.

Because…well, I’ll let Nelson sum it up:

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After the longest cold open I’ve experienced in a movie, in which two people with a car that seems to be working very well pull into a car shop garage that’s supposedly closed but is still open need the poor woman working the garage to fix their apparently broke car while the man in the passenger’s seat is bleeding from his head and losing consciousness and the woman is screaming about needing to both get him attention and needing the car fixed while the…

Yes. Longest sentence ever. I know. But “long” is a word that I will keep coming back to. Because while I was watching this movie, my notes were pretty abysmal and non-existent. I wrote things like “3 years ago” and “go back to Party City” and “Longest Cold Open” and “TV film. Close-ups reaction shots. Static and passive filming. Legs energy.” That last one should have read “lacks energy” but truthfully I lacked the energy to correct myself.

This is my uncorrected notes. This is all I had to work with. Yes, typos included because I couldn’t be arsed with fixing it.

This is my uncorrected notes. This is all I had to work with. Yes, typos included because I couldn’t be arsed with fixing it.

In the 9 months since I started this site, I have watched bad movies, ugly movies, and movies that really conflicted my feelings but I haven’t seen a movie as unwatchable as this. I don’t like dunking on movies and I would never call a movie lazy because I know even failed movies took a lot of time, effort and money to make, but my god. A movie can have bad acting and be entertaining. It can have script issues and be fun. A litany of things could be wrong with it and still you can usually wring something nice out of it.

Here, I could focus on a number of things that went wrong. But I think the thing that really ruined this movie was the scipting. There is a reason scripts have structure. Sure, some auteurs can get away with breaking the three act structure, but when in doubt, you follow the basics. And the problem here that made this movie so agonizingly slow is that what should have been the inciting incident doesn’t happen until the midpoint.

Yes, the movie takes about 50 minutes to get to the part where our protagonists choke each other out, in a ritual called “Brinking” to get into the beyond to hopefully see their lost ones. And it’s not until the third act that people start dying. It’s not until the third act that our hero begins the typically second act investigation. It’s not until the third act that anything happens.

Pet Graveyard is a copy of Flatliners, which got its own remake two years ago (has it already been that long?). Which, okay, fine. But the first hour is literally establishing that this group wants to see their loved ones, then getting to the church and choking themselves out. That’s an entire hour. If you’re going to borrow heavily from a movie, at least do the full monty and follow the same plot structure. We’re talking script basics 101.

Listen, I try to find something good to say about movies I don’t like. But sometimes I can’t even muster up one positive thing. Pet Graveyard makes the worst mistake a movie can make. It was boring. The villain was bored. The actors were bored. Even the cat seemed bored. I did not like this movie.

I think it can be best summed up with these two following lines of dialogue between the characters:

Jeff: “Hey, I’ve been calling you.”
Francis: ”I took a week off work.”

If you can make sense of the correlations between those two sentences, then this movie will be for you. If not, please stay far, far away from this.

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