Starring Claire-Maria Fox, Andrew Hollingsworth, Rita Siddiqui
Directed by Rebecca Matthews
With a title like Pet Graveyard I bet you cannot possibly guess what big screen movie this low budget film is a total knock-off of?
You guessed it.
Not joking. Pet Graveyard may have an Asylum-riffic mockbuster title, but this UK indie horror flick owes virtually everything to Flatliners. Young people with troubled souls conduct an experiment that involves stopping their hearts for a short period of time to visit the other side before being revived and finding themselves haunted by something that has followed them from the afterlife. Sound familiar?
Having the title Pet Graveyard splash across the screen following a prologue that did not involve anything even remotely relating to either of those two words was quite jarring.
The story follows a brother and sister duo still grieving over the loss of their mother. He’s a life-risking YouTube thrillseeker so it’s understandable why his judgment is questionable. She’s a nurse so you’d think she’d have more common sense than to go along with his next ultimate adrenaline junkie video — that ultimate rush being death itself.
He’s hooked up with a young woman who has never fully come to terms with her kid brother’s untimely death and a guy still haunted by his wife being killed in a car accident he was responsible for. They’re going to take part in an experiment/ritual called “brinking” that will allow them to cross over to the other side, see their loved ones again briefly, and then get revived by a nurse who really doesn’t put up much of a fight before agreeing to go along with this madness.
Here’s how the brinking process works:
Step 1: Recite the incantation.
Step 2: Focus on the deceased loved one you want to see again by telling us your backstory.
Step 3: Have someone suffocate you to death with a plastic bag.
Step 4: Make sure the egg timer has been set so the person designated to revive you doesn’t leave you under too long.
Step 5: Arrive in a dark room somewhere in the afterlife where you are reunited with your loved one to speak your piece, but something’s just not quite right, rather sinister actually.
Step 6: Resuscitation.
Step 7: Have you ever seen a Final Destination movie?
Death doesn’t like it when you cheat him so cue the Grim Reaper causing sinister hallucinations of your dearly departed and and a mysterious Sphynx cat with glowing red eyes that follows you about until death incarnate decides to stop beating around the bush and start beating you to death with a monkey wrench. You’d think the cloaked, skull-headed, physical embodiment of death itself would go about killing people in means less slasher movie-ish?
My biggest gripe with the plot is how did these people learn about this brinking ritual to begin with but never came across the myriad of stories about others trying the same ritualistic experiment only to wind up dead shortly after when the Grim Reaper comes calling to collect what’s his, which sis happens upon with a single web search?
As the plot goes on, you can begin identifying elements of quite a few well known horror movies: Flatliners, Final Destination, The Grudge, A Nightmare on Elm Street. Ironically, the one it seems to owe the least to would be Pet Sematary. Aside from the brief appearances by the glowy-eyed cat that doesn’t really do much of anything (and doesn’t even make its first appearance until about the 50-minute mark) and a fleeting reference to a graveyard, the eye-rolling rip-off title of this film proves to be one of the most misleading in ages.
According to IMDb, the working title was Mummy Resurrected. That makes even less sense given there is no mummy.
I was actually dreading penning this review when I sat down at my laptop because it dawned on me that outside of the ridiculous attention-seeking title that has next to nothing to do with the movie itself, I honestly have no strong opinions about the film I just watched, positive or negative. At no time did I ever feel totally bored, nor did I ever find myself caught up in the plot. The story pacing goes from methodical during the set-up to oddly rushed once it comes time for death to come calling. The senses of dread and urgency often felt muted when they were needed most.
And the means by which death itself can be defeated is downright silly. I just wish the movie as a whole had committed to being either eerier or sillier. Pet Graveyard really isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not a particularly good one. The title is its most memorable aspect.
I strongly suspect most people who get sucked into giving this a look based on the Pet Graveyard title and artwork are going to come away gravely disappointed that they didn’t get the Pet Sematary rip-off they were expecting. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t one of them.