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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 326: Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby
Hit me, baby, one more time

Right off the bat, I have to say, “Fuck Roman Polanski”. He is a statutory rapist who ran away to avoid sentencing. Glad to get that out of the way just in case there was any confusion. I probably wouldn't watched today's movie if it wasn't for a slip in my memory that he directed it. On the one hand, I have wanted to see Rosemary's Baby for a long time as it is considered a horror classic. On the other hand, Roman Polanski is a scumbag who committed a crime and has never been punished. It does bring up an interesting and difficult point, though. Can you separate the art from the artist? People love T.S. Elliot but he was anti-semitic. William S. Burroughs was convicted of manslaughter. Some people are able to disassociate the real-life trouble that these artists get into from their art. I have rarely been able to do that, but for you, I'll give it a try.

Rosemary's Baby is a 1968 psychological horror movie based on the novel of the same name by Ira Levin. The movie stars Mia Farrow (The Great Gatsby, Alice) as Rosemary Woodhouse and John Cassavetes (The Dirty Dozen, Capone) as her husband Guy Woodhouse. Rosemary and Guy, a struggling actor, move into an old apartment building called the Bramford. Their old friend Hutch (Maurice Evans, Planet Of The Apes, Bewitched) warns them that the Bramford has a famous and strange history with witches and satanists, but they move in anyway. Rosemary befriends a young woman named Terry who lives in the building with her neighbors, Roman and Minnie Castevet. She is shocked when Terry, who was supposedly a happy woman on the road to recovery from drug addiction, killed herself. Rosemary befriends the eccentric Castevets. Minnie even gives Rosemary a good luck necklace containing something called tannis root. Guy is cast in a role after the man who originally got it suddenly went blind. Rosemary and Guy decide to try to have a baby and on that night, Minnie gives the couple homemade chocolate mousse to go with their dinner. Rosemary insists it has an undertaste and disposes of most of it. She becomes dizzy and passes out on the bed. She dreams that she is surrounded by naked people from the apartment and is raped by a demon. She wakes up with scratches on her back as Guy apologizes for being to rough with her. Soon, Rosemary is pregnant and the Castevet's tell her to go see their friend, Dr. Abraham Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy, The Awful Truth, His Girl Friday). He prescribes that Rosemary forgoes any vitamins in favor of a natural drink made by Minnie. Rosemary begins to lose weight and has terrible pains. On the day Hutch plans to see her, he falls into a deep coma. He soon dies and leaves Rosemary with a book on witches, leaving a cryptic message, “the name is an anagram”. She is able to deduce that Roman Castevet is actually Steven Marcato, the son of a famous witch and devil worshiper. She suspects that her neighbors are part of a satanic cult and becomes paranoid about all those around her, including Guy. Is Rosemary's baby really the product of a satanic cult and what will happen to her?

Satan has the dreamiest eyes

Rosemary's Baby is an intense, engrossing psychological horror film that wraps around the audience and doesn't let go. You're never quite sure if there really is a cult or if Rosemary is paranoid. This tension becomes unbearable as the audience wants to scream for her to run for her life. Thrills and suspense rage throughout most of the film and is quite exhausting by the end. The beginning of the film starts off slow and quite normal. Minnie Castevet is so wacky, the film might be mistaken for a situational comedy at certain points. For the first half hour, nothing really happens. The horror doesn't begin until the conception where the movie practically flips and switch and sends the audience into a tailspin of fear. We never fully see the demon, just hands and eyes, which I found disappointing. We didn't have to see everything in detail, but I think a little more could have sent the mind reeling.

The biggest reason why the movie succeeds is because of Mia Farrow. She is fantastic in the movie with her emotions laid bare and projected onto the audience. Her line “This is not a dream! This is actually happening” sticks in your brain and makes you feel supremely uncomfortable. She makes the character and the film itself far more believable than one would suspect from a satanic baby film. The supporting cast is equally as good and truly create a sense of horror and dread as the movie progresses. The ending is very good and ends on an uncomfortable down-note. The beginning and ending “la-la-la” music is great, but sparingly used, which is a shame because it could have been as iconic as the music from Halloween and Friday The 13th. While I still hate Roman Polanski, I have to say that his direction helped create a dark atmosphere that hangs like a fog over the entire movie. If I have any complaints about the movie, it's that it is way too long. The 2-plus hour run time could have been cut down in certain scenes for a neater overall package.

Who wants pie?

I was able to separate the artist from the art in order to watch Rosemary's Baby and I'm glad I did. Rosemary's Baby is a scary, uncomfortable horror movie that sticks with you long after the credits have rolled. While overly long, the story is believable while still being supernatural. There is a lot of suspense and thrills with plenty of scares. Mia Farrow is great and gets a lot of help from a solid supporting cast. As I said before, I still hate Roman Polanski and wish to never watch another one of his movies again, but Rosemary's Baby is highly enjoyable.


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