Director: 'Bloodlines' fills in blanks from Stephen King's 'Pet Sematary' novel

"It is as scary as it is and as unsettling as it is because it is a human drama first," Lindsey Anderson Beer told UPI.

"Pet Sematary: Bloodlines," starring Jackson White and Natalie Alyn Lind, premieres Friday. Photo courtesy of Paramount+
1 of 5 | "Pet Sematary: Bloodlines," starring Jackson White and Natalie Alyn Lind, premieres Friday. Photo courtesy of Paramount+

NEW YORK, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Director and co-writer Lindsey Anderson Beer says she hopes her new Pet Sematary prequel, Bloodlines, answers the questions readers of Stephen King's novel have pondered for decades.

"I was obsessed with the book when I was a kid," Beer told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.


"There was a lot from the book -- even when I read it then -- that I wanted answers to, so It was the ultimate fulfillment of a dream to be able to fill in those blanks for myself."

Based on Stephen King's 1983 novel, Pet Sematary, and its 2019 film adaptation, Bloodlines premieres Friday on Paramount+

The supernatural horror movie takes place in 1969 in the fictional town of Ludlow, Maine, and follows Jud Crandall (Jackson White) as he unravels the mystery of why dead animals and people buried in a secluded section of the town can be brought back to life -- but as malevolent versions of themselves.


"To me, the most important things to honor [from the source material] were the themes of grief and loss and confronting death and the violent impulses we'll go to to avoid death and loss and just the idea of 'What would you do to protect the ones you love and spend one more day with them?'" Beer said.

Pam Grier, Henry Thomas, Natalie Alyn Lind, Isabella Star LaBlanc, Samantha Mathis and Forrest Goodluck play the residents of Ludlow, most of whom are not only aware of, but dedicated to, protecting the town's dark secret.

The story unfolds as heartbroken Bill (David Duchovny) revives his dead, Vietnam veteran son, Timmy (Jack Mulhern), to disastrous results.

"I wanted to spread that throughout the town and really see the burden that this cursed town had and see that play out in dynamics of all kinds of relationships," Beer said.

"It is as scary as it is and as unsettling as it is because it is a human drama first and a horror movie second," she added. "You deeply know and care about those people and you don't want to lose them, so it feels more true to life."


Readers will remember that, in the 1983 book, Timmy died in World War II.

The decision was made, however, to set Bloodlines in the 1960s, to fit the timeline of the 2019 movie version.

"I did not conceive of this as really a prequel to their film or any one film. I thought of this as a prequel to the book," Beer said.

"It was the perfect setting, thematically," she added. "It highlights the perils and the lessons of Pet Sematary better than a lot of other wars, but also for me, it felt like a sister decade to us right now -- a time of disillusionment, a time of counterculture.

"It felt like a really accessible decade that people could maybe wrap their heads around."

Yellow -- a color mentioned many times throughout the novella -- was a popular color in this time period, so the filmmaker wanted to lean into that connection.

"In the book, the evil that's in the woods is described as having yellow eyes and a yellow tint," she said.

"Yellow is a color that pervades the text in the book and yellow is, obviously, such a quintessential color of the late '60s and early '70s, and at the center of bright summer days and cornfields in Maine and sunflowers.


"I just had this image in my head of a landscape that is absolutely beautiful and serene, but then is rotting at its core."

Jud is a character who has a pivotal, supporting role in the book and movie where he was played by John Lithgow.

In the prequel, Jud is seen as a much younger man, heading off to join the Peace Corps with his girlfriend, Norma (Lind), when their trip is sidelined because Timmy's dog attacks her.

"We know him from the movie and the book as an older man. Very mysterious, seems like he's lost a lot of people in his life and we will certainly find out that's true in this movie," Beer said.

"But the end of the book says that Jud is the 'guardian of the woods,' which, to me, suggested this larger mantle and job that he has in Ludlow that isn't really explored [until now]," she added. "We took that concept of somebody with a job to do and a guardianship."

The filmmaker said she wanted to portray Jud as someone who is eager to serve, but can't join the military like his peers are doing because -- as he later learns -- his parents have paid off a doctor to give him a medical excuse.


"Tracking that do-gooder, naive mentality to fighting his own war in Ludlow was an organizing principle for me," Beer said. "Making this movie Jud's war was something I kept coming back to."

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