Plot: A young couple moves into an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbours and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life – Rosemary’s Baby.
Director: Roman Polanski
Released: January 1969
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that you wouldn’t have got The Exorcist or The Omen without Rosemarie’s Baby and although the film is somewhat dated, it remains a classic and one of the few supernatural horror films to successfully make the inner-city scary.
It was during the making of this film, that director Roman Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson Family, giving the plot of Rosemary’s Baby an extra tinge of sadness and making Polanski probably the perfect person to be making this film, not only this, isolation, fear of the unknown and urban angst are Polanski’s speciality.
Mia Farrow is absolutely amazing in this film and perfectly cast as alongside John Cassavetes as newlyweds Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, who’ve recently moved into a new apartment and soon set about making a family, only to discover that the inhabitants of this gothic inner-city building might not be the nice neighbours they first believed. It’s easy to see why the film jump-started her career and set her on the path to stardom. She beautifully pulls off the transition from being sweet and vulnerable to paranoid as her pregnancy progresses and she suspects all around her may night have her or the baby’s best interests at heart.
Yes, this might sound a little cliche now but in 1969 this was a lot fresher, plus when you have Ruth Gordon in the role that won her an Oscar and ever-excellent Sidney Blackmer playing the nosy couple next door, how can anything feel stale, even with the 140-minute runtime. Normally a long time in the horror genre, but here, for the most part, flies by.
This isn’t to say that sometimes you have some unnecessary dialogue, such as a scene in the laundry room that feels a little out of place, though this does mean we are treated to more of Rosemary’s background than the audience normally are given in a film of this genre. This is probably down to Polanski not wanting to make a shock-and-gore horror, but rather a film all about the atmosphere and tension.
Some might say that Rosemarie’s Baby isn’t so much a horror movie, but in fact, a film with horror elements, I would argue that there are enough moments of terror throughout to be classed as a horror film. Including the difficult to watch rape-scene, mixed with flashes of a demonic entity that foreshadows the implications, or Rosemary’s reaction first meeting her newborn baby and what it conjures up in your imagination. It really is a great climax, and no wonder it inspired so many directors.
Rosemary’s Baby is a real classic in the horror genre and some taboos that were covered here are rarely touched even today, making it a must-see film for fans of supernatural or occult films or fans of movies where tension and great acting is paramount.