Out on April 2nd 2019 via Uncork’d Entertainment (Screener was provided for review purposes), Pet Graveyard stars Jessica O’Toole, David Cotter, Rita Siddiqui, Hindolo Koroma, Kate Milner-Evans, Georgina Jane, T’Jean Uter-Dinh, and Hattie Willow.
With the imminent release of the Pet Semetery remake, the title of this movie is a puzzle. It immediately makes you think that this is a cheap cash-in. Hoping to grab handfuls who might stumble across it by mistake. The cover even has a cat front and centre yet that moggy is barely in it and it certainly isn’t a movie about a graveyard. Although technically there is one in it.
Now that’s out of the way, just what is Pet Graveyard then? Well, what we have here is an interesting, at times heartfelt, horror about loss and the need for closure. It’s wonderfully shot, with artful music and clever twists. However, it asks a lot of us in regards to suspending our disbelief and the villain is just awful.
Lily (Jessica O’Toole) and Jeff (David Cotter) are a young brother and sister who have recently lost their mother (Kate Milner Evans). Neither are handling it well with Lily’s nursing grades slipping and Jeff becoming a bit of a daredevil. It’s the latter that sees him approach his sister with a plan. Something he found on the internet…a way to cross over and speak with the dead. A chance to say goodbye and get closure.
She refuses to be involved but is forced too when he explains that he is going to do it anyway and her nursing skills would be far more useful in ensuring he can be revived. Along with two other people who also lost people important to them, the plan is set in motion. A plan to deprive the three of oxygen, killing them whereupon after three minutes, Lily will revive each one.
Everything works as it should with each person crossing over and getting a chance to speak to their loved ones. The place? A kind of purgatory that is in complete darkness. At first it’s a joyous reunion until they say they have to leave. This does not go down well with the dead person they were visiting but each manage to escape as Lily revives them.
Afterwards, each tries to pretend that is was nothing but a happy moment and they move on with their lives. Unfortunately for them they did not come back alone. There is no coming back. Your soul belongs to death and the Grim Reaper wants what is his.
An interesting story undone by a villain that is obviously supernatural but goes around using knives and axes to kill his victims. It’s so odd that I was convinced we were going to get a twist that revealed the Grim Reaper to be a human serial killer. We don’t and it’s enough to take you completely out of the movie. Such a frustrating story decision as elsewhere Pet Graveyard does really well.
Ignoring that death is little more than an inconvenience for the characters here, they’re well written and acted well. O’Toole and Cotter in particular are convincing and have chemistry. So much so that a final scene pulls on the heartstrings effectively. They’re both likeable and understandable.
Pet Graveyard is stylish too, the cinematography done well with only the odd bit of editing and cutting to distract. Such as the random cuts to a cat in a graveyard. Something that seems like it was added in post-production to try and link into the title.
By time the credits roll, you’ll want to talk about this movie. Even if it is just to rant about what it did wrong. It leaves an impression which is a good thing.
The Final Score - 6/10