Review: Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

Pray for Rosemary’s Baby…

Rosemary’s Baby is one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen. A tale of Satanism and pregnancy dripping with atmosphere, Roman Polanski’s masterpiece of horror maintains a subtle creepiness throughout the majority of its 136 minute runtime.

The film may take some time to get into its main plot, and sure, it’s clear early on that the child is most definitely demonspawn, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? Rosemary’s Baby is consistently entertaining, thanks to brilliant performances from the cast at large, and one stand-out, Oscar-winning turn from Ruth Gordon as odd, yet loveable Satanist Minnie Castevet.

The film is truly a showcase for Mia Farrow’s acting abilities, however, and she is fantastic in the leading role of Rosemary, charming, yet dangerously naïve. She’s a strong, independent character, though still cowed by societal standards of the time. John Cassavetes is also great as her husband, the somewhat selfish starving-artist-turned-Satanist Guy. The rest of the supporting cast, particularly Maurice Evans (Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes), are phenomenal as well.

The film tackles heavy themes with tact and grace, serving as a commentary on the innate trust placed in well-known/high class doctors, as well as the ills of homeopathic medicine (the mysterious, nonexistent Tannis root), and the dangers of cultism.

The film is notable for featuring one of Hollywood’s few dark endings, an effectively terrifying one which caps off the film brilliantly. I’m not going to directly spoil it, even though the film is nearly 50 years of age. I’m not rude.

All in all, Rosemary’s Baby is a highly effective piece of 1960’s horror cinema, representing the transition into the taboo-laden, loosely-censored horror cinema of the 1970’s, laying the groundwork for classics to come. A mood piece that effectively terrifies audiences even today, Rosemary’s Baby earns an A+.

a plus grade


 

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Matt says:

    I saw Rosemary’s Baby for the first time last year and was surprised how well it holds up. I love the slow deliberate start and thought Mia Farrow was absolutely brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I felt the same. Horror films usually deteriorate over time, but this is an exception.

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  2. Wendell says:

    This definitely holds up. It does so because of how bold it is and how directly it deals with its subject matter while simultaneously taking an artsy approach to depicting lots of things, specifically those outrageous dream sequences. It was a film ahead of its time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. vinnieh says:

    This is slow-burning psychological horror at its very best and oh so creepy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. emmakwall says:

    Awesome review Jake, summarised so well. To start off by saying something is one of the scariest films you’ve seen, wow, that gets my attention! What other films would make that list?

    I’ve never seen Rosemary’s Baby unbelievably! I know, I know. I should really get cracking with that one. So thanks for not being rude (not that you ever would be!) and giving away the dark ending 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Other films that terrify Jake: The Thing, Alien, Halloween, The Descent, Hush, the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, It Follows, Silence of the Lambs, Night of the Living Dead.
      I like Stir of Echoes, though it’s not super scary.
      I guess Heavenly Creatures is pretty creepy, mostly due to Kate Winslet’s weird performance.
      I try not to spoil films with big twists/surprises. Except for the ones everyone knows, like The Sixth Sense and Empire Strikes Back.

      1. emmakwall says:

        I’ve seen all of those except Hush. Great selection! Mind you, which Hush? Aren’t there a few Hush’es?!

        I agree, Stir of Echoes is a great film. It was massively overshadowed by The Sixth Sense (big twist time) because they were both released in the same year, which is a shame because it’s a really nifty ghost story.

        Heavenly Creatures is very weird, the clay people scared me! I haven’t seen it in years. Don’t they murder her parents?

        The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (original obviously) is one of my top 5 horror films, absolutely love it! It’s so disturbing.

        Ghost stories / paranormal films always scare me the most. The Ring, The Changeling and The Orphanage probably scared me the most in ‘recent years’ (aged 18 or over basically!) The Ring sounds silly but this was a long time ago (over a decade….!) before the whole ‘long black hair’ thing took over the horror industry and it was new and very scary. And I was a MUCH bigger wimp too lol. I can’t remember many films affecting me at the time, as much as The Ring did. I could watch it now and no big drama but at the time it really shit me up.

        The Exorcist terrified me the first time I watched it as well! And probably the second time too 🙂

        Insidious scared me a lot as well. In that ‘I’m a scared kid!’ way.

        I listen to the It Follows soundtrack in my car sometimes and when it dose the loud, crashing bits it can be pretty scary – especially at night down quiet country lanes!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hush is a Netflix film done by the writer/director of Oculus (another great film) about a deaf-mute woman attacked by a crossbow-wielding murderous psychopath while alone in her cabin in the woods. It’s a great film that does a lot with sound design.
        Kevin Bacon is amazing in Stir of Echoes, and it’s one of the few films in which the ghost’s motivation makes complete sense.
        Yep, Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey bash in Lynskey’s mother’s head with a rock.
        Texas Chainsaw is surprisingly much less grindhouse then it would seem from its title and the time period it came out. Plus that opening shot with the corpse strapped to the headstone is both beautifully shot and absolutely grotesque.
        Haven’t seen The Ring, should get around to it. I’ve heard it’s one of the only good Japanese horror remakes.
        I’ve actually only seen Insidious: Chapter 2, which I think is better than a lot of people give it credit for.
        It Follows has an amazing soundtrack, though I’m not big on music.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. emmakwall says:

    For some reason I just can’t reply to your last comment so I’ll start a fresh one here 🙂 it’s probably me being dumb.

    Hush sounds very good, I will hunt that one out. And totally agree with your thoughts on both Stir of Echoes and Texas Chainsaw. With the latter I bet people expect much more ‘video nasty’ and gore, sexual violence etc but it’s actually not like that at all. It’s disturbing, it’s tense but it’s not grindhouse as you say. There’s just something about that movie though, it’s such a great, great horror film! And that is a great shot at the beginning, agree 🙂

    The Ring really scared me, like a ‘stand out’ scare in a sea of horror films. But it was a long time ago and it certainly wouldn’t scare me in the same way now. Having said that it’s a great US remake and worth watching.

    I enjoyed Insidious 2 as well, I like all the Insidious films to be honest! They’re about the only films now that make me feel a bit childish again ‘afraid of the bogeyman’ type stuff!

    Like

  6. Rosemary’s Baby is my favourite film ever 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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