Thursday, October 16, 2014

Movie Review: "Rosemary's Baby" (1968)

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Movie"Rosemary's Baby"
Director: Roman Polanski
Year: 1968
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 16 minutes

An actor named Guy Woodhouse (John Cassavetes) and his wife Rosemary (Mia Farrow) move into a new apartment in Manhattan. The apartment is located in the Bramford building and has a rather shaky past, as it once housed a satanic coven of witches. One day in the laundry room, Rosemary meets a woman named Teri (Victoria Vetri) who is a guest of Rosemary's neighbors Roman (Sidney Blackmer) and Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon). Teri and Rosemary hit it off, but their friendship doesn't last long as Teri commits suicide shortly after. A little while later, Guy and Rosemary meet the Castevet's for dinner, where Guy and Roman become good friends. Things soon start to change as the Castevet's interject themselves more and more into Rosemary's life. Guy's new acting role is keeping him distant, so in order to make it up to Rosemary, he decides it's time to have the baby they've been planning. Though they successfully conceive, the conception itself was a rather nightmarish experience for Rosemary. As time passes in her pregnancy, the Castevet's become more and more involved, including recommending a doctor and giving her special herbs that seem to be hurting more than helping. Rosemary starts to worry that the Castevet's aren't what they seem and that maybe the satanic coven didn't leave the Bramford building after all. 

"Rosemary's Baby" is one of those films that always gets mentioned as one of the top horror films ever made. Unfortunately, this is not the case for us. While it is a good movie overall, it just isn't all that scary. This is another situational horror that relies on creating tension and fear through stress and anxiety placed on its lead character, Rosemary. We come to share her anxiousness, paranoia and fear as an audience. There are a couple of creepy scenes in the first half of the film, but mostly the it banks on slowly building up said nervous energy and channels it all towards the final climax which is meant to be jaw dropping. The conception scene alone is enough to warrant a couple of points by itself to the film's rating. Polanski manages to capture the two-faced nature of everyone involved in Rosemary's conception, smiling widely the minutes leading up to it and standing naked and chanting over her unclothed, tied down body the next. Though BigJ and I did both raise our eyebrows during this scene knowing Polanski's past, well, present, just a few short years after this film was released. Polanski is notorious for making extremely detailed, drawn-out films, and though the tension being built eventually has a purpose here, this is no exception as it feels like it drags a bit. This movie owes a lot to its score, as it helps fuel the strain and madness. The music, in this case, only added to the emotional terror, the physical insanity, and the mental anguish Rosemary experiences before and throughout her pregnancy. The final climax is a bit underwhelming and we feel like there could have been much more done with the ending to make it worth our while in the scares and thrills department.

Mia Farrow is really the stand-out part of this film for us. Her performance is commanding and she portrays Rosemary extremely well. Farrow has an innocence about her that really works convincingly as the doting wife and wanting mother. Between her conservative outfits, her pale white skin, and her reliance on her husband and his approval for almost everything, we have the recipe for a truly naive character who is trusting to a fault. Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer put on fantastic performances as well. They seem to be an overly friendly and lonely elderly couple simply looking for some companionship since they have no children of their own. We as the audience immediately get the sense that these two should not be trusted for some reason because their niceness seems phony, but Rosemary's ignorant naiveté prevents her from noticing right off the bat. John Cassavetes managed to have the same fake concern for Rosemary and it's clear that he's trying to control her in every aspect of her life. He brushes off any of her wants or concerns regarding her pregnancy and manages to convince her that it's all in her head and that everything she's experiencing is normal. Cassavetes, in this respect, does a good job, though any actor could have taken his place.

Overall, we're not exactly sure what it is that makes us only like this movie as opposed to love it. The script is really well written, the directing is top notch (personal feelings for Polanski aside), the acting is outstanding, and the story overall is enough to make anyone be completely creeped out beyond belief. Unfortunately for us, there's something about it that makes it a little bit boring and keeps the entertainment factor much lower than others have exclaimed.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Pieces"

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