Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Roman Polanski reappears on the list of 101 Horror Movies with the classic Rosemary’s Baby.

Mia Farrow plays Rosemary Woodhouse, who with her husband, tv commercial actor Guy (John Cassavetes) moves into a new place, an old, charming looking apartment building.

However, a number of odd occurrences and an unexpected and mysterious pregnancy, send Rosemary into a spiral of paranoia about the safety and nature of her baby.

The neighbors, Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) seem very unassuming and plain in their neighborly attentions. But it is behind these everyday facades that something darker lurks.

Guy’s career begins to take off, and their relationship suffers from it, though Guy is the one to bring up the idea of them having a child, though it may be in payment for his newly found success – I’m just saying.

When Minnie tries to make sure she’s drugged for a ritual, Rosemary is only partially dosed, and sees most of it in a hallucinogenic haze, including her relations with Guy, or the devil, under the watchful eyes and attention of the neighbors.

The Satanic rituals serve as a counterpoint to the Catholic rituals of Rosemary’s upbringing.

Minnie sets her up with an obstetrician who tells her not to read any books, or listen to her friends, making sure that there are no outside influences on her. She also provides her with a ‘vitamin’ drink of her own brewing.

Her friends try and convince her to see another doctor, when they see the pale and troubling condition Rosemary is in. Though just when she’s about to see her old doctor, the pain she’s been suffering for months suddenly vanishes and she can feel the baby move.

An old friend who suffers a mysterious death, leaves a book to Rosemary, All of Them Witches, and it just sends Rosemary into a deeper spiral of paranoia.

Everything culminates, of course, with the birth of the baby (“he has his father’s eyes”), which leaves us with the last troubling shots of Rosemary, her face transformed from fear to maternal instinct and protectiveness, with just the hint of a smile.

The film still works, it’s paranoia is almost palatable, and the film itself is menacing because everything in it is set in such a seemingly ordinary reality. Of all of Polanski’s films, this one and Chinatown will always be my faves.

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