Roman Polanski’s bizarre film is psychological horror at is finest.
Director: Roman Polanski
Cast: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Maurice Evans, Ralph Bellamy
Genre: Psychological, Horror, Thriller
Rosemary’s Baby is right about the perfect horror film. There is minimal violence and profanity but even then it has the power to give you chills and keep your eyes glued to the screen throughout. As the movie progresses, the tension gradually grows and the emotions start to intensify. You begin to doubt what is right and what is wrong. Who is good and who is evil. Rosemary Baby’s power to invoke such a wide range of emotions and be so captivating cements its place among horror classics.
The opening scene of the film is a haunting aerial shot of New York City in which the camera revolves to show the numerous skyscrapers of the city. The sound of a lady singing ‘La La La’ continuously is playing in the background. This sets the tone of the film right from the start. The story is about a young couple (Rosemary and Guy) who are looking for a new apartment to stay in. This couple is seemingly very much in love. Rosemary (played by Mia Farrow) is, in particular, a very loving and enthusiastic woman. They find an apartment which they really like. The couple are told, by various people, of strange events that have happened in the vicinity of the apartment and are advised not to live there. Rosemary and Guy decide to ignore these warnings and live there anyway. I know what you’re thinking right now; that this premise is very clichéd. I thought the same but I was proven very wrong as the film progressed!
The story starts to unravel more when the neighbors come into play. They are an old couple (Minnie and Roman Castevet) who are very nice to Guy and Rosemary but you can sense that there is something strange about them. The fine cinematography of the film plays a huge role in creating a sense of creepiness and uneasiness. The camera slowly moves through the rooms of the apartment increasing the tension and making us feel that there is something wrong underneath this seemingly normal environment. There are many such scenes that are accompanied with no musical score which makes these scenes more raw and direct.
Both Guy and Rosemary get along with the Castevets. Guy regards them as genuine friends but Mary views them as a tad too ‘nosy’. Rosemary grows increasingly suspicious when she sees her husband spend more and more time with their neighbours. In fact, this is where the movie really succeeds. It allows us to fully sympathize with the main character. The viewer really feels the emotions that Rosemary feels. It is almost as if we see the film through her naïve and innocent eyes.
As the film’s title suggests, the film really centers around Rosemary’s baby and to be more precise, her pregnancy. Guy and Rosemary decide to have a baby and after Rosemary becomes pregnant, paranoia takes over her. She starts to doubt everything around her whether it be the kindness of her neighbors, the sincerity of her husband or the intentions of her obstetrician. Her pregnancy turns out to be a very dreadful experience for her both physically and mentally. The film makes a strong point about pregnancy in general here. It is widely regarded as a very beautiful process but in reality, it has the potential to become a real horror show for women as they undergo numerous troubles and face many pressures.
Rosemary’s Baby also has many religious undertones. The concept of Satan plays a big role in the film’s plot. How it plays a part is up to you to find out by watching the film as it would be a spoiler if I reveal how. Moreover, most of the film takes place inside the apartment which gives a claustrophobic feel to the whole environment which is an essential element to create uneasiness.
Mia Farrow’s performance as Rosemary is absolutely brilliant. Her character goes through a wide array of emotional experiences and she portrays every stage of her character’s journey with utmost commitment. The other notable performance of the film comes from Ruth Gordon who is very convincing as Minnie Castevet.
Overall, Rosemary’s Baby is a film whose atmosphere and screenplay perfectly complement each other to create a thrilling movie watching experience. What sets it apart from other horror films is its ability to be scary and feel supernatural despite showing ‘real’ places and people. This is a thriller that slowly absorbs you into itself. The build up to the climax is very tense and the ending of the film is also chilling. Rosemary’s Baby is Roman Polanski’s Baby! One of the best works of his illustrious career.
FINAL RATING: 5/5