March 29, 2019 Pet Graveyard (Movie Review)
Film production company Uncork’d Entertainment has been quite the force in its years of cinematic existence, releasing films of all genres, but with a heavy hand planted on the Horror side of its neighborhood. That said, they will bare their teeth with the release of the movie Pet Graveyard to all digital platforms, and on DVD, Tuesday, April 2, 2019.
The title of this movie alone would draw massive attention from any true Horror fan looking for those genuine knock-off films that share a resemblance in story, and in title, but which slightly poke fun at the original version. There is even a hint of knock-off-ability on the front cover, but unfortunately, Pet Graveyard will not be the film many Horror fans will expect to be watching. Said title has no resemblance to 1989’s Pet Semetary. A huge letdown in many books, but lying within this wanna-be knock-off is scene after scene of unintentional laugh-out-loud moments, corny villains, and cheddar-cheesy dialogue. Pet Graveyard may also top the “So Bad, It’s Good”-charts the second the movie ends.
Pet Graveyard centers around a brother and sister living together as they finish college, while also coping the loss of their mother. Lily (Jessica O’Toole) is slacking in her schoolwork, but is determined to make it through. Her brother, Jeff (David Cotter: Thessalus and Medea 2018), on the other hand, is a wannabe internet star/daredevil, who films himself doing stupid stunts to attract fans and cash flow.
Jeff decides to up his daredevil game with something called “brinking,” which is where people off themselves for a few minutes, using the time as a way to say “goodbye” to loved ones who have been deceased. Along for the brinking ride are Francis (Hindolo Koroma: Abusing Protocol 2015, Prime Cut series), and Zara (Rita Siddiqui: Desi Rascals series, Hate History IV 2018), both of whom have some unfinished closures themselves. When each of these brinkers are resuscitated, a vengeful Grim Reaper begins hunting them down.
Right off the bat viewers will wonder when a pet graveyard will appear, or wonder exactly where the movie is going to take them. Be prepared because this movie deals nothing with pets nor graveyards. Pet Graveyard is one part 19900’s Flatliners, and one part 2000’s Final Destination. The good news is that, after the characters return from their brink, all the funny, cheddar-cheesy stuff begins to happen, and also when a hairless kitty-cat (Nimoy Summerscale: 12 Deaths of Christmas 2017) begins looming about. Not much of a pet, though, but adorable to look at.
Every character is likeable—especially during the first arc—but when chaos ensues, it seems all sense and every brain cell goes right out the window. This becomes apparent during conversations between the characters after returning from the dead: Each of them saw something, including Jeff, but instead of being sympathetic and understanding, Jeff becomes this mean-spirited, ignorant jerk, ignoring his friends and sister of whatever they have to say.
One scene will cause head-scratching when Zara awakens from a nightmare on the couch at Jeff’s and Lily’s apartment. After being frightened, she decides to take a shower—a Horror-trope no-no—which leaves her vulnerable to a Grim Reaper attack. So, as she begins screaming for dear life, Lily and Jeff both take turns frantically shaking the locked door handle, shouting at the door while slapping it, but neither try kicking down the door. Gets even better: Jeff shouts “Zara! What are you doing in there?” Another great scene is when the Grim Reaper visits poor Francis at his place of work (an arcade), where he is attacked with an empty tip jar—and a huge pipe-wrench (at an arcade?), which, for some reason, just happened to be on a desk.
Another great scene of unintentional laughter is of Lily sitting on her bed staring at a computer screen while researching the cons and pros of “brinking.” Instead of the use of narration, Lily begins reading the articles she finds aloud, and even seems to stumble during one line that reads: “The skull is it’s portal to the human world…” with the obvious grammatical error included.
All kidding aside: for a low-budget flick, Pet Graveyard looks stunning on the small screen, due mostly to whatever cameras were used. Every scene is crystal-clear, and every single occurring nuance is picked up so well. The lighting is perfect, especially during the “dark void” scenes, and more so during the candle-lit scenes of brinking.
Regardless of the cheese slowly melting alongside the running-time, it is apparent how much heart went into making Pet Graveyard. There is an equal amount of suspense and gloom lurking throughout the film, and some decent acting chops to be witnessed from the cast of mostly newcomers. First-time Director Rebecca Matthews did a nice job making Pet Graveyard come to life. Matthews has style, and a certain flair about her movie-making ways. It would be nice to see what she has next up her sleeve—just to watch her grow as a full-fledged director. There is also hope she will work with the same crew on her next film.
For a film that brings the cheese, knee-slap laughter, some thrills, and some fine filmmaking skills, but also for a film that deals not what the title would have someone believe, Cryptic Rock gives Pet Graveyard 3 out 5 stars.