Pet Sematary: Bloodlines co-writer/director Lindsey Anderson Beer discusses the Stephen King adaptation and the importance of her casting choices.
- Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is a prequel to Stephen King’s iconic novel, exploring the origins of the mysterious graveyard and its evil ties to the town of Ludlow.
- The movie aims to honor the themes and tone of the original book, focusing on the psychological trauma of loss and the lengths people will go to protect their loved ones.
- The film features a talented cast, including Jackson White, Forrest Goodluck, and David Duchovny, and received praise from Stephen King, who approved of the script and praised the finished product.
One of Stephen King’s most iconic novels is getting a fresh expansion in Pet Sematary: Bloodlines. Acting as a prequel to the 1983 book, the story revolves around a young Jud Crandall as he gears up to leave his hometown of Ludlow, only for the mysterious return of one of his childhood friends to lead him to learn of the eponymous location and its evil ties to the town’s past.
Jackson White leads the ensemble Pet Sematary: Bloodlines cast as Jud alongside Forrest Goodluck, Jack Mulhern, Henry Thomas, Natalie Alyn Lind, Isabella Star LaBlanc, Samantha Mathis, Pam Grier and David Duchovny. Exploring the untold origin story of the mysterious graveyard and how the town of Ludlow has worked to keep it secret, the movie offers some further insight into King’s novel while also delivering the terrifying kills horror audiences have come to expect.
Related: Every Stephen King Movie & TV Show Releasing In 2023
Ahead of the movie’s release, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with co-writer/director Lindsey Anderson Beer to discuss Pet Sematary: Bloodlines, her goals in expanding King’s novel, the importance behind her casting choices and the author’s support of the project.
Lindsey Anderson Beer Talks Pet Sematary: Bloodlines
Screen Rant: As the Doctor Sleep vinyl shows back there, I’m a big Stephen King fan, and I find it very intriguing that you went from writing Sierra Burgess is a Loser to now making your directorial debut on this. How did it come about for you to make that jump between genres, and what was it like to make that transition between the two?
Lindsey Anderson Beer: Well, it’s funny, I think because of the weird way that movie credits work, Sierra Burgess is actually very much an aberration on my credit list. Most of my movies that I’ve worked on are more kind of dystopian sci-fi or action things, and Sierra came about — I have to credit my father who came up to me one day and was like, “Lindsey, can you just write one thing that isn’t weird?” [Laughs] “Sure, dad, I can try for you.”
I’ve written one Sierra, and absolutely nothing else like it, and Pet Sematary came about because I had worked on the Transformers franchise with the producers, and helped them a lot with just kind of fixes through productions and stuff, so we had a really good relationship. I had reached the point where I really only wanted to write and direct, and they said, “We really want to find something to produce for you to direct.” Mark Vahradian, one of the producers, called me and said, “Would you ever direct Pet Sematary?” I said, “Are you f—-ng kidding me, that was my favorite King book as a kid!” He sent me the script, I read it within an hour, I’m not kidding you when I say I sent him an outline for what a new script could be a couple hours later, and it just went so fast from there.
One of the things I find interesting about any adaptation of Pet Sematary is that there’s always that balance between the psychological trauma of loss as well as the straight-up horror that can come from this kind of concept. Given that this is a direct prequel to the 2019 effort, which went more horror, what were some of your biggest goals in adapting the novel having that love for it?
Lindsey Anderson Beer: You know, I think this project started as a 2019 prequel, Jeff Buhler wrote the original draft, and obviously, it’s the producers of the 2019 film. When I came aboard, I really didn’t think of it as a prequel to any one film, I just thought of as this prequel to the book, and just kept re-reading the book. I wanted to honor the book as much as I could, both in terms of the themes and the tone of the original book. Obviously, the theme being, “What would you do to spend one more day with somebody you love, and what would you do to protect the people you love?”
We’ve seen that in the movies play out in terms of Louis’s character, and his child, and I wanted to expand that. You see that with Bill Baterman, and his son Timmy in this version, but you also see a version of it with Dan Crandall, and his son Jud, and lying to his son and trying to push him out of town to protect him. You see it in Jud and Manny’s relationship, and coming together to try to put their friend out of misery and save each other. You see it in Marjorie, Pam Grier’s character, and everybody trying to protect their community, and I really wanted to take that theme and expand it to the people in Ludlow, and really show the burden that this kind of cursed town has on all of its inhabitants and has for generations.
The other important thing to me was really preserving the tone of the book, which is it’s a character drama first, but all the scarier because it is a character drama first. You really care what happens to those people, and the book, I don’t think people know, like a lot of people don’t remember or haven’t read the book, they’re more familiar with the movies, but it has this absurdist inner monologue of Lewis’s that runs through that lends some dark comedy and levity at times. I love the mishmash of genres in the book, and I wanted to make sure to honor that in my version of the film to where it is dark, and it’s scary, but there are some moments of levity and some bonding between friends, which also to me matched up very well with what I was trying to do, which is kind of mimic the pace of war in this movie.
This is Jud’s war, he wants to go to war at the beginning of the film, and ultimately he’s going to stay and fight a war in Ludlow. When I was thinking about the pace of war, it’s not all action, some of it is lulls, and some of it is tense stalking, and some of it’s frenetic action, and some of it is just bonding with the people that you’re fighting by side-by-side with. That’s something that I kept in mind whenever trying to pace the film.
I especially loved David Duchovny as Bill Baterman. It almost felt like a flip of his dynamic with The X-Files, where he’s going from fighting the supernatural to now trying to embrace it. I’m curious if that was in your mind when you were casting this role, or if there was something else in mind when you approached David for this?
Lindsey Anderson Beer: It wasn’t in my mind! It’s such a good point, and it’s so funny that yes, he’s absolutely somebody who he’d be investigating as Mulder. But no, what was in my mind was Californication, and what a beautiful father he was in that. I wanted to make sure that whoever played Bill Baterman could play it in a way that felt sympathetic and relatable, and didn’t just come off as an arch villain who does the wrong thing. I just thought he brings a lot of gravitas and beauty to that role, because I saw it in Californication. He read the script, he’s a father, he really related to the themes and the grief that Bill Baterman was going through, and he just really connected with it.
I also loved watching Henry Thomas, because that is an actor who just shows so much balance in every role that he does. His role as Jud’s dad in this movie is such a joy to watch, and he’s someone who thanks to Mike Flanagan has done multiple Stephen King adaptations. Similar to my X-Files question, was that in your mind when you approached him?
Lindsey Anderson Beer: That was 100% in mind. I feel like we only have so much screen time with the elder characters, and I wanted people who communicated a shorthand of, “Okay, yes, they’ve been around this evil, they have this almost weight of genre to them.” So people like Henry Thomas, and then Pam Grier with her action legacy, people like that I felt like instantly give the audience a sense that these people know s–t.
I love that thought process. But as much as I love the elder characters, the younger actors are also all phenomenal. I love that you went for mostly up-and-coming performers, especially Jackson, he does such a great job as Jud. That’s such an iconic character, how challenging was it to find the right person to bring this new version of him to life?
Lindsey Anderson Beer: It was really challenging in that so many talented young men raised their hands for this role. I looked at so many tapes, and had so many auditions. To me, ultimately, it wasn’t challenging at the end, because I just so singularly focused on him, and I felt he was the right person. The reason I felt like he was the right person was because he has this kind of soulfulness, and old soul to him, and because we only know Jud as an old man, that’s how we’re used to knowing him. I felt like it was so important that audiences have some kind of connection to him, and that we could understand that this young, kind of idealistic man becomes this older man that we know in other installments.
Stephen King recently shared his enthusiasm for the movie on Twitter. A lot of times productions do communicate with him, they don’t communicate with him. Did you have any interaction with Stephen before that, or if not, how do you feel seeing that praise on social media?
Lindsey Anderson Beer: I have not had any direct communication with him. We have had check-ins at all kinds of key points, like he signed off on the shooting script, and gave us the thumbs up, and said he liked it. Obviously, I would not have wanted to shoot anything he didn’t like. But it’s always a journey from scripts to finished film, so it was just so rewarding to see that it resonates with him, and that he loves the movie as much as we do, it’s his baby. So I’m just glad that he feels we did right by it.
About Pet Sematary: Bloodlines
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines stars Jackson White (Tell Me Lies, Mrs. Fletcher), Forrest Goodluck (Lawmen: Bass Reeves, The Revenant), Jack Mulhern (The Boys in the Boat, Mare of Easttown), Henry Thomas (The Fall of the House of Usher, Gangs of New York), Natalie Alyn Lind (The Goldbergs, The Gifted) and Isabella Star LaBlanc (True Detective: Night Country, Long Slow Exhale), with Pam Grier (Cinnamon, Jackie Brown) and David Duchovny (Bucky F*cking Dent and Californication).
In 1969, a young Jud Crandall has dreams of leaving his hometown of Ludlow, Maine behind, but soon discovers sinister secrets buried within and is forced to confront a dark family history that will forever keep him connected to Ludlow. Banding together, Jud and his childhood friends must fight an ancient evil that has gripped Ludlow since its founding, and once unearthed has the power to destroy everything in its path. Based on the untold chapter from Pet Sematary, Stephen King’s chilling novel, Pet Sematary: Bloodlines is a terrifying prequel and the untold story of why sometimes dead is better…
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines, a Paramount+ original movie in association with Paramount Pictures’ Players Label, is a Di Bonaventura Pictures Production and based on the novel Pet Sematary by Stephen King. The film is directed by Lindsey Anderson Beer, in her directorial debut, with a script written by Beer and Jeff Buhler, and produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and Mark Vahradian.
Pet Sematary: Bloodlines begins streaming on Paramount+ on Friday, October 6.
Source: Screen Rant Plus
Key Release Date
- Pet Sematary: Bloodlines Release Date: 2023-10-06