The film adaptation in 1968 of Ira Levin’s popular novel, Rosemary’s Baby, is an absolute classic, beloved by horror and nonhorror fans alike. This movie has many horror film aspects, but much of it is also deeply psychological. Polanski is brilliant in bringing this novel to life, giving due respect to the book and accuracy to Levin’s words. The gothic feel of New York also serves the film well.
We begin by being lulled into a sense of security by Mia Farrow herself singing a lullaby as we watch the credits roll and first encounter Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse apartment-hunting. Rosemary falls in love with an apartment in the Bramford and talks Guy into taking it immediately. The prior renter had died and the rental manager reveals a hidden closet behind a bureau in the apartment that confuses them all. They don’t see any big deal, but this closet does come into play later in the film. Ro and Guy’s friend, Edward Hutchins, Hutch for short, tells them of all the strange occurrences that took place in the apartment building, including a famous devil worshipper, cannibalistic sisters, and dead infants. Ignoring events of the past, the couple dives in, and Ro especially becomes transfixed in redecorating and creating a home for her and her husband. He is an actor, as Ro repeats to anyone who asks, and is struggling as many actors do.
Rosemary meets a young woman while doing laundry, Terry, who tells her she lives with an old couple on the same floor as the Woodhouses. Rosemary also admires a necklace, once again, of great importance later, of Terry’s that was given to her by the generous couple, the Castevets. Days later, upon arriving home at night, the couple sees a crowd gathered outside their building. Apparently, Terry has committed suicide by jumping out the window onto the sidewalk. It is here that they are first introduced to the busy-body Castevets. Minnie Castevet stops by their apartment to thank Rosemary for her kind words on that fateful night, and thus begins a series of visits and near stalking by the old couple, at first concerning the Woodhouses with their clingy behavior.
I gotta tell ya, Minnie reminds me of my grandmother on my father’s side. Not the annoying, devil-worshipping part, but the clothes, the blunt attitude, and basically saying whatever she wants, no matter what. Besides being an excellent film, that’s another reason why I get a kick out of this movie and love it so much. Okay, back to the movie. So, Rosemary tells the couple how she wants to have three children one day. Minnie gives her the necklace that Terry wore, creepy I know, but Minnie doesn’t know that Ro knows it. At first, she finds it disconcerting, but eventually wears it. She and Guy have a strange dinner at the Castevet’s apartment, showcasing all the idiosyncrasies of their personalities, and Guy is intrigued by the stories Roman tells, while Rosemary finds them a bit odd and too pushy. Now, the Castevets are involved in their lives in every way, always interrupting and without regard to a couple’s privacy. One night, she brings over some Chocolate Mousse, and Rosemary passes out, and dreams of a demon raping her. Turns out, it had been drugged, and her husband admits to having sex with her while unconscious. A little perturbed, she is quickly rid of any weird feelings when she turns up pregnant, what she always wanted.
Strange occurrences continue over the following months, with Rosemary becoming more and more concerned about just how friendly her new neighbors are. They virtually make her go to their doctor friend, who ignores a severe pain she endures for months, and even Guy takes up for them. It’s really just a movie you have to see. To describe it all would not do it justice. Essentially, Rosemary discovers a betrayal of the worst kind, and a supernatural force within her perceived comfort zone of safety and security. You never really know what you are seeing, as that is what Rosemary is experiencing, and it is a completely mind-blowing experience. Revered as a classic among film buffs and film novices alike, I believe Rosemary’s Baby has something for everyone, and it just so well made, you cannot help but become entranced. This movie proves that a film does not have to be “scary” to be scary, and also that what you don’t see is often more terrible than what you do see. Polanski’s use of light, dark, colors, and strange nuances really makes for a unique film, as well as classic shots that really show the personality of the 60s. The scene where Rosemary is waiting outside the Time-Life Center for Hutch is one of my favorites. This movie is highly recommended to any and all.
It was always rumored that there was a curse surrounding this movie, because of events such as the horrific murder of Polanski’s beautiful wife, Sharon Tate, at the hands of members of the Manson family in 1969, as well as the 1980 assassination of John Lennon outside the famed Dakota where he lived, which played a role in and of itself in Rosemary’s Baby. While we may never know that for sure, it definitely makes for an even creepier atmosphere.