A staple of the horror genre, "Rosemary's Baby" has been spoofed, parodied, mocked, and re-watched to death. It's amazing that something so controversial and blatantly anti-religion was released in 1968 and saw the success that it did. Audiences were ready for a movie that would make the shudder, scream, and haunt them long after the credits rolled up.
Keep in mind that this movie comes five years before "The Exorcist"...suffice it to say that it was ahead of its time.
Roman Polanski, who seems to jumps from genre to genre with no hesitation and great success, took the book Rosemary's Baby and turned into into one of the most enduring horror movies of all time.
The story concerns Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow), a girl who has her whole life ahead of her *cliche alarm*. Yes, she seems to have the perfect life—her husband is a handsome actor, she is allowed to decorate the house as she wants, and they are moving into a new apartment.
The movie opens with the couple touring the new apartment. It's immense and grand in an 19th century way. There's something about the place that appeals to Rosemary...so the couple ends up moving in.
What they didn't know before they decided to move in was the building's history. There were some unsightly characters in the building. Characters that practiced black magic and has a tendency to munch on babies and people...yummy.
Polanski, who is a story telling master, uses the powers of skepticism to win over the viewer. The questions that came to my mind, came to the minds of the characters as well. They're not just token horror movie men and women; they are fully developed.
The next door neighbors, the Castevets, are...unusual to say the least. Minnie (Ruth Gordon) is nosy and completely devoid of any sense of propriety. Her husband Roman (Sidney Blackmer) is quite possibly even more eccentric in different ways. She's the loud talker and he's the long talker. Suffice it to say, there's a lot of talking that goes on between the Woodhouses and the Castevets.
Rosemary is trying to have a baby, she wants to settle down and start a family. But she may be getting more than she bargained for.
"Rosemary's Baby" is shot with such moodiness and impending doom that it's hard not to be engaged with the film. Much of the film is portrayed in dream-like shots—suddenly a character imagines floating on a mattress in the sea.
Let be honest, the film is stunning. It looks great, it's thrilling, and it's never boring.
There is an amount of anti-religious sentiments that permeate the movie; but that adds to the mysteriousness, the superstitious feeling.
Polanski is subtle with this, he lets you see the covers of magazines and the items in the background. He's not upfront about the information so for most of the movie the viewer is left clueless.
There are no jump scares here, though there is a madness boiling that grips you and doesn't let go.
From the first scene to the last, there is never a dull moment. Parts of the movie are intense. Parts of it are humorous.
Rosemary is stifled, pressured into a kind of submission that makes the viewer angry. Then when the end scene comes around, it's hard to say whether that anger was justified or manipulative.
It's not the ending I was expecting and I'm not sure I liked it—but I can't imagine the movie finishing any other way.
"Rosemary's Baby" remains a classic because of how engrossing it is. You can't escape Polanski's world once you are in it.
Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4