I've always loved both the book and film versions of Pet Sematary, as any awesome horror fan should, but just recently I reread the book and then watched the movie again. And it's weird, but it wasn't until this last trip to Ludlow, Maine with the Creeds that I finally realized what Pet Sematary is.
Pet Sematary is so frightening because it is about the complete destruction of an innocent family. Duh, right? But I think now that that is a really important fact to keep in mind when you're thinking about what's happening on screen or while you're reading the book. It's about a family being completely annihilated by horrific violence and evil. King's stories usually include ordinary people in extraordinary situations, but this is a family.
Though the novel ends rather ambiguously with Rachel coming back to Louis from the dead, I'm not assuming any kind of happy ending here. I think it's safe to say that Rachel either killed Louis, or Louis killed her and then himself. Little Ellie is the only one left alive, but I'd say she probably lives out the rest of her days in a padded room, rocking back and forth with foam coming out of her mouth, muttering things about the Pet Sematary and Oz the Gweat and Tewwible.
I understand now, Stephen, I truly do. These macabre and unspeakable things are not things that you ever want to come near the people you love - the people you love more than yourself - and I'm not just talking about the gruesome idea of turning a two-year-old into a murderous zombie. No one should have to bury a child, or even a beloved pet, so far before their time. The grief that Louis Rachel, and Ellie have when Gage dies is powerful, as is the guilt that Jud Crandall has for setting all this in motion.
"The most frightening book Stephen King has ever written." I don't think it means frightening in a "Boo!" way at all, but more like an idea that scares you to the core and hits you where it hurts the most. I may have scoffed at this simple review of Pet Sematary before, but bringing this story closer to my heart, with the image of my sweet little nephew in mind, I have to say that I completely agree with the statement now.