PET GRAVEYARD concerns a group of friends tormented by the Grim Reaper and his sinister pet after they undergo an experiment that allows them to revisit the dead.
Tag Line: The Space between life and death can kill.
Release Date: April 2, 2019 | Rating: 3 out of 5
Pet Graveyard Review
Pet Graveyard pays homage to two iconic movies – Pet Semetary and Flatliners. It starts three years in the past and foreshadows a dangerous ritual that allows people to die and enter purgatory. Fast forward to the movie’s present day where sister and brother duo Lily and Jeff are struggling after the death of their mother. While Lily works to maintain her grades and keep her seat in college, Jeff has dropped out of university and is a social media star known for dangerous stunts. In order to get closure on his mother’s death, Jeff enlists the help of two individuals he found online, both with guilt related to a deceased relative. From there, the plot takes off.
I can’t say this is an original screenplay. While the title is Pet Graveyard, the only plot point related to the name is the fact that the ritual takes place at a church with a graveyard (for people, not animals) and that the Reaper has a pet cat who appears before someone dies. Despite the awesome movie poster with a hairless cat standing over a pile of bones, the real movie Pet Graveyard mimics is Flatliners. People willingly kill themselves in order to get to the afterlife while documenting the journey. The experiment brings the dead back with them.
But there are some differences. The afterlife in Pet Graveyard is a dark silent existence where the image of their loved one appears. They also get a glimpse of the Reaper, which is a man dressed in all black and what I would describe as a more metal or robotic face as opposed to the traditional skull. What I enjoyed about the afterlife was the sass of the dead. Jeff and his peers cross over to say their final goodbye, to make amends and to gain closure. And really, that’s the motive of characters who find themselves in movies with this trope. Except in this movie, the dead aren’t having it. They throw back Jeff’s insecurities, lay on the guilt trips and basically adopt a “cry me a river” approach to being face-to-face with the ones who have risked everything to enter Purgatory.
It’s an amusing and a pleasant twist.
After all, it is kinda selfish of Jeff to only be thinking of himself. What about his mother? What about her needs? But things aren’t that straight forward, and we learn that even in death, the Reaper can play tricks.
But for every entertaining point of the plot, I found disappointing ones. For example, they kill themselves and ask Lily to revive them after three minutes. She keeps track of that important number with an egg timer. A few notes on this. Lily is failing out of college. Her character is introduced to the viewer while she is undergoing academic review. She’s working hard to stay in college, but she’s not doing a great job. So would anyone feel comfortable putting their lives in her hands? Also, when she brings them back to life, she pumps oxygen by placing a mask over their faces and then compressing and releasing a bag. I’m sure it’s used in medicine, but wouldn’t she need to stimulate the heart? Shock it to start back up?
And an egg timer?
So their lives are being placed in the hand of a failing nursing student and what might be the least accurate measure of time.
Everything in this movie is conveniently laid out for the characters which makes it very predictable as a viewer. There’s a jump scare every now-and-then, some blood but nothing I’d consider gory. The horror makeup in the few scenes it’s utilized didn’t hit the mark, but the actors worked hard to deliver believable performances. Even if one of them was trying (and failing) to hide an English accent.
But I felt like this movie knew what it could and couldn’t do with a lower budget and worked well within the confines. They didn’t try to do big CGI effects or crazy over the top horror elements. They kept with a more subtle approach, which I thought was smart film making.
It isn’t the best horror film out there, but it’s not the worst. Know what you’re getting into before you sit down to watch it, and you may find something in there that peaks your interest.
Nico Bell is a horror and science fiction writer. Her work has appeared in The Second Corona Book of Horror Stories, Drabbledark Anthology and Horror Tree’s Trembling with Fear. She joined the Coolthulhu Crew in May 2018.