I say, not very sporting, wot wot?
Calling your movie “Pet Graveyard” when it has nothing to do with pets, and barely visits the graveyard, or as the neighborhood kids misspelled it to Stephen King, “Sematary?” That’s not cricket.
But here stands “Pet Graveyard,” a limp, limey “Flatliners” with nothing but a misleading title to connect it to the latest remake of Mr. King’s work to trot into theaters. Shameless. Cheap, not really scary, but “shameless” is what stands out about this British production.
There’s this young guy, Jeff (David Cotter) who is feeding traffic to his daredevil vlog by taking the occasional daft risk.
And he’s heard about this thing, “brinking,” which the Brits think means taking your life long enough to commune with the dead, which he wants to try out.
Judging by his accent, Jeff and his nurse-in-training sister Lily (Jessica O’Toole) are Americans, living in the UK. That doesn’t explain how they don’t know “brinking” has a different definition here in the states.
He’s got other folks interested in this process, and he figures they can make a joint journey to the afterlife and he’ll get at least the “died and passed on” part of that on video for this vlog. He’s also got it in his head that he can finally “say goodbye” to his dead mother in the process.
It’ll be “safe,” he’s sure. “Worst case, we just get woken up,” re reassures Zara (Rita Siddiqui) and Francis (Hindolo Koroma).
The “waking up” part will be handled by sister Lily. As we’ve just seen her urged, by her faculty advisor, to “take a gap year” because maybe nursing isn’t for her, there are flaws in Jeff’s plan.
But Francis is torn by guilt over the girlfriend who died when he was behind the wheel, and Zara mourns the brother who died when they were little. So it’s off to an empty church with sheets of clear plastic to suffocate themselves with. Nothing to it, right?
Right. Egg timers at the ready, because we don’t want them staying “dead” too long.
The suffocating requires “help” and those scenes are the creepiest thing director Rebecca J. Matthews manages here.
The “afterlife,” a pool of blackness where the living reconnect with lost loved ones, only to see a tall dude in the worst “Mr. Death/Devil/Demon” costume (robe) in the bargain, isn’t much.
And the creepy hairless cat who is a harbinger of death and perhaps Old Scratch in another form is just here to make that “Pet Sematary” connection.
Which feels like an after thought.
The ritual that they recite before “dying” is Ouija board silly.
“The powers that see, the powers that be…let us cross over in peace and return in light.”
And the dead? They’re not the most articulate at expressing what life in the hereafter is anything worth coming after.
“It’s always dark here…I’m always alone. Are you staying?”
The disasters that befall our quartet when the dead follow the living back from “the other side” are predictable and fail to frighten on any level.
But maybe somebody will see this offered, video on demand, and forget the “REAL” title and that’s what they had in mind, if not all along, at least once they realized “Pet Sematary” was coming out in early April, too.
MPAA Rating: unrated, bloody violence, profanity
Cast: Rita Siddiqui, Jessica O’Toole, David Cotter, Hindolo Koroma
Credits:Directed by Rebecca Matthews, script by Suzy Spade. An Uncork’d release.
Running time: 1:38