Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: Rebecca J. Matthews
Writer: Suzy Spade
Producer: Scott Jeffrey, Rebecca J. Matthews
Stars: Jessica O’Toole, David Cotter, Rita Siddiqui, Hindolo Koroma
Four people desperate to reconnect with dead loved ones discover that a death ritual curses them to become prey for the Grim Reaper.
What’s more disappointing than an un-fun microbudget mockbuster? An un-fun microbudget mockbuster that doesn’t even mock the movie it’s supposedly busting.
Every review already out there for “Pet Graveyard” has correctly noted the exact same thing. Despite its title, “Pet Graveyard” isn’t a ripoff of “Pet Sematary.” It’s actually a ripoff of “Flatliners” with “Final Destination” stirred in for a double dose of conventional copycatting.
This means the story involves a trio of people, and a sister supervising her participating brother, daring to temporarily trot into the afterlife so they can communicate with dead loved ones. Crossing over to “the other side,” which is just a pitch-black room probably achieved by draping dark curtains in someone’s garage, involves three simple steps. Recite a silly poem found online, think hard about the deceased, then get suffocated to death by one of the other Craigslist strangers partaking in the same experience.
The gang momentarily gets what they came for. When they are resuscitated back to reality, they also get a visit from the Grim Reaper. Renaissance painters would be disappointed to discover the Grim Reaper looks less like a nightmarish demon and more like a man who only had a Hamilton to spend on a cloak and mask at Halloween Town. Even though he is a supernatural entity, this incarnation of Death will also bludgeon you with a wrench or strangle you with a shower hose like an ordinary home invader, as he goes down the line claiming the souls of those who spent three minutes in his domain.
What about that cat on the cover art? You get your first glimpse of the hairless Sphynx 25 minutes into the movie, and a glimpse is literally all it is. After one more brief peek, the animal finally has marginally more to do at the 52-minute mark.
I can’t prove this beyond all doubt, but I’d bet that the cat was forcibly inserted after the film’s first cut was already in the can. At one point, the sister tells her brother that according to internet research, seeing the cat signifies that its master, the Grim Reaper, is not far behind. Other than this minor moment, no one ever talks about their random cat sightings. The animal only appears in quick insert shots on either end of vague reaction close-ups for various characters.
Seriously, if you watch the movie, and I don’t recommend that you do, take a look at each of the cat’s scant appearances and ask whether you’d notice any difference if that collective 40 seconds of footage was removed. The film was titled “Reaper” once upon a time. I’m certain that someone wanted to justify putting “Pet” in the new name to piggyback on “Pet Sematary” and paid for cursory pickups to shoehorn a cat into the story somehow. That’s the only explanation that makes a lick of sense for why it is unnecessarily included in the first place.
There is a graveyard at least. Then again, the skeptic in me wonders if those exteriors were shot after the fact too, because the afterlife experiment takes place in a nondescript room that could be almost anywhere.
The rest of the movie can be critiqued using generic comments applicable to any number of interchangeably forgettable films in the DTV horror space. A pointless prologue. Amateur actors you’ve never seen before and will never see again. Handheld camerawork that’s often too dark or too bright because the production didn’t have the requisite time, money, or effort to light properly. This sentence for rent by your complaint of choice for a lo-fi VOD indie you’ll never think of again one hour after watching.
I don’t necessarily expect a mockbuster at any level to be particularly “good.” I don’t expect them to be as poor as “Pet Graveyard” either. Grim Reaper help us, should someone make a sequel to this shambles, there had better be much more of the cat and far less of the cheap claptrap.
Review Score: 25