#15. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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October is winding down, meaning one thing—HALLOWEEN. Halloween ranks a close second to Christmas.  I take my costume and candy selection VERY seriously. However, I’m not the best company when it comes to watching a horror flick.  I do not understand the appeal of spending 90 minutes in a constant state of terror followed by days of residual fear and panic.  It is scary enough being a Royals fan in the postseason – why ask for added stress?

Despite my apprehension and better judgment, I’m focusing this blog on a few horror films from my book of ‘must sees’. I’ve locked the doors and made peace with my Maker. Wish me luck!

My spooktacular movie marathon begins with Roman Polanski’s 1968 classic, Rosemary’s Baby. As mentioned, scary movies are not my thing so the genre is largely missing from my famed film library. Therefore, watching Rosemary’s Baby was circling way out of my comfort zone.  For those of you with a passion for fright, this film’s got you covered with satanic rituals, secret doorways and eccentric witches. If you are like me and watch a majority of the movie peeking through hand-covered eyes, don’t let yourself miss the film’s backdrop of a magnificent New York City apartment, as well as a leading lady with a wardrobe that is truly on fleek!

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That hat. Those boots.

The tone of this movie is quickly set during the opening credits as Mia Farrow hums an unsettling lullaby.  We’re introduced to the young couple Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes)—yes his name is Guy, and this bothers me throughout the film—as they purchase a stunning apartment despite its peculiar and disturbing history. He is a struggling actor and she is eager to start a family. They are soon befriended by pushy neighbors Roman (Sidney Blackmer) and Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon), a meddlesome and unapologetically odd senior couple. What follows is a series of tragedies and bizarre events, including a not-so-coincidental pregnancy for a frustratingly naïve Rosemary.

I’ve never been a huge Mia Farrow fan, but her performance is haunting and mesmerizing as her character endures intense physical pain and the (expertly paced) gradual realization that something is horribly, horribly wrong with this pregnancy.  This is more of a “thinking man’s” horror film and doesn’t rely on the crutch of jarring jolts and screams.  You are on this terrifying journey with Rosemary, like it or not, and experience the horrific climatic ending as she does. It is nothing short of white knuckle/nail biting suspense.  It is that raw technique coupled with flawless directing and expert casting that makes Rosemary’s Baby a landmark film for the genre.

The lesson that my 20-something self has gathered from watching Rosemary’s Baby is that you should probably just never trust your neighbors…Ever! Especially if they’re strange and give you odd gifts that make you feel ill.

My Rating: ★★★

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