‘Rosemary’s Baby’ Review: Rockabye Baby

Posted in Screening Room by - October 20, 2014

Rosemary’s Baby is Polanski at his best, and paranoia horror at its best. I’m not going to talk about Polanski’s crimes or personal life in this review, its low hanging fruit and frankly I don’t care. He’s one of the most influential filmmakers in cinema and should be treated as such, not as a criminal for alleged misdeeds. That aside, Rosemary’s Baby is the definition of “slow burn” horror and has been mimicked to varying degrees of success by Ti West and others. 

The plot of Rosemary’s Baby is a woman’s husband sells her womb to the devil so that he can achieve fame and fortune. However, this isn’t revealed until the final scene of the film so most of the time is spent playing with the viewer’s notion of reality. Many of the shots are framed in a way that causes the viewer to question whether what’s going on is reality or just a dream. This is specifically the case with the often talked about devil rape scene which is framed as a dream but turns out to be drugged reality. The slow burn is so successfully done because Mia Farrow’s character is unable to determine whether or not there is a conspiracy going on around her. Many of the characters actions are suspicious and Farrow picks up on them but dismisses them because of the trust in her husband. The pacing might be too slow for some but if you stick with it, the ending is extremely rewarding.

Mia Farrow as Rosemary carries the film throughout as well with a terrific performance. She plays Rosemary as a naive housewife who throughout the film becomes more cautious and suspicious to everyone around her. She is mousy, small, and weak which allows for her husband, played by the immensely talented John Cassavetes, to take advantage of her and use her to further his own needs. Her eyes are the most expressive part of her performance, showing her terror and disgust better than most actresses can ever hope to achieve with their entire performance. Her character’s arc is quite interesting as well since the final scene makes her complacent in the horrors that take place purely because her motherly instincts take over. It solidifies her character’s broken nature by the end of the film but also adds to the depth of her performance.

This film is master class in suspense and horror as only Polanski can achieve. Many talented directors stray away from horror as it is seen as the lowest tier of film right above pornography which is bullshit. Polanski makes this film his own through his signature directing style and truly owns the directing job. If more esteemed directors took on expertly written horror scripts as they do other genres of film, there could be a new resurgence of quality horror films. It’s coincidental that John Cassavetes, a pioneer in independent film, is cast in a high brow horror film since many of the quality horror films today are done by independent filmmakers. Give horror a chance, what’s the worst that could happen?

Final Say: Watch It

Who Said What?

Rosemary Woodhouse: “This is no dream! This is really happening!”

This post was written by
Chris Stachiw is the Editor-in-Chief and co-host of the Kulturecast. He's a native Californian with a penchant for sarcasm and a taste for the cinematic bizarre. You'll often find him wandering the wasteland of Nebraska searching for the meaning of life and possibly another rare Pokemon.
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