I have a very stupid question.
I remember someone asking a really good question when the remake came out: “Who cleans the cat every day?” Someone had to make sure that undead cat in the 2019 movie looked so gross, and then clearly someone needed to groom it after the shoot every day. Now, your film has an undead dog. Who cleans the dog?
So the dog has his own special dog trailer, beauty trailer, and had his — Jelly Bean is the hero dog’s name and a bunch of wonderful handlers. Yeah, and they would dye and scrub his hair every morning and he would come out looking one way and then by the end of the day, he was all washed off in his little beauty routine trailer just like a normal human actor.
So in the original Timmy Baterman monologue from that chapter, it’s very much one bad day, essentially. And in the movie, it becomes a bad week, about three to four days. Can you talk about expanding it, and how it ultimately leads into a much bigger action scene?
Yeah, I mean that’s always our challenge as creatives, right, is just the imagining. And for me, it was really important to make this Jud’s war. So to me, it couldn’t just be a short thing. It needed to be something that maybe emulated a little bit more the experience of going to war between intense action scenes, stalking scenes, hiding, and I wanted it to be an experience for viewers. So it’s not something that they had seen before. We’ve all been in horror movies that contained haunted house horrors, and I just wanted to do something different here.
Is there a scene or moment that you’re particularly proud of in the final film?
Yeah, a couple scenes. The sunflower scene with the running through the sunflowers, and also the dance scene I love so much because I think it really encapsulates Manny and Donna’s relationship when they’re sitting there and they have this moment of kind of sibling bonding before kind of really sweetly dancing with each other and then obviously s*** turns sideways.
But to me, I think that encapsulates what I was trying to go for. That scene kind of encompasses everything I was trying to go for in this movie, which is that spirit of the King book where it’s not just horror, it’s also drama, it’s family pathos, it’s personal struggle and being able to make the horror all the scarier because you’re invested in the characters.
I’m always fond of period horror. Once something takes place before 1980, I’m already hooked. So the ’60s was one thing, but then the movie has a flashback to the 1700s. It’s a little movie within the movie.
Yeah, I loved filming that sequence and I shot so much stuff, we could make its own prequel to the prequel with that stuff. But I just thought it was so important to show the founding of Ludlow and what happened there. Because it’s one thing to hear about it, and it’s another thing to see it and really feel the weight of that history and how long this evil has been there and kind of what the origin is for at least the white colonial settlers versus the tribe that was there. But it was a blast to shoot that and the forest that we shot in was just amazing. It was an amazing place to shoot.
It’s about time that a “Pet Sematary” story brought in indigenous characters. I love the book, but it’s always been a horror story written by a white man built around Native American “magic.”
Exactly. Exactly. And that was really important to me. And something I said from the start, when I took on the project, I said, “If I’m going to do this, it’s important to me to subvert the notion of the mystical indigenous and the cursed Native American land and say that this is something that’s always existed,” and also give a point of view to the Native Americans in the story, and Donna and Manny to me, other than Manny and Jud, are very much the heart of the movie and are so important to giving perspective.
Is there a Stephen King story or book that you have your eye on next? If someone cut you a check and said, “Do what you want,” is there one you’d pick?
I don’t know. I’d really have to think about it. “Pet Sematary” was my favorite, and that was always the thing in my head and it’s been my life 20 hours a day for the last three years, so I can’t even think about it yet. But I love Stephen King. I would be honored to play in any sandbox.
“Pet Sematary: Bloodlines” is now streaming on Paramount+.