31 Scary Movies: ‘Rosemary’s Baby’

“Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) – When a movie begins and ends with a soft lullaby, and the film’s title features the word, baby, one might guess “Rosemary’s Baby” is a warm family film about a young couple’s journey into parenthood.

Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is a gentle, soft-spoken 20-something from Omaha – and living in New York City with her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) – but director Roman Polanski’s horror masterpiece is anything but a light-hearted affair.

This brooding and twisted mystery burns slowly while carefully peeling away the facade along the way.  Curiously, Polanski sets up isolating surroundings for Rosemary, while she lives in the biggest city in the country.

Rosemary and Guy move into the spacious and beautiful, but also very gothic and ancient Bramford Building, and actually all of their neighbors seem to be lightyears older than the very structure that they all occupy, including the sociable Minnie and Roman Castevet (Ruth Gordon, Sidney Blackmer).  (Fun fact – Gordon won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for her work as Minnie.)

Initially, Guy is apprehensive about beginning a friendship with Minnie and Roman, because he says that they’ll never get rid of them, however, one day, Guy suddenly finds the couple insightful and interesting.  When Rosemary becomes pregnant, Guy is so excited, he runs from their apartment to tell Minnie and Roman the news.  Minnie – with her hair usually in curlers and always wearing way too much makeup – helps Rosemary with specially prepared nutritious daily drinks, suggests a different obstetrician and gives her a lucky charm which emits a terrible odor.

Meanwhile, Guy approves of everything the Castevets suggest.

But why is Guy so agreeable?

While all kinds of help is provided for Rosemary, her pregnancy is going terribly.  She’s in constant pain for months and carries deep, dark circles under her eyes.

One friend from her former life runs into her and remarks, “You look like a piece of chalk.”

But why does she look like a piece of chalk?

Farrow – perfectly cast – supplies ample mixes of innocence, curiosity and attempted-autonomy while coping with vulnerable physical, emotional and mental states.  In 1968, a young, pregnant married woman without an income has to rely on the individuals closest to her, and in this case, that is a precarious universe, especially in the Bramford Building.

Image credits: Paramount Pictures; Trailer credits: Movieclips Classic Trailers

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