30 Day Horror Review – PSYCHOLOGICAL HORROR – Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A young couple move into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life. (IMDB synopsis)

Phew! Halfway through the month now! And onto Psychological Horror. I’m not sure if this is a well-known film or not, but the premise is fairly original as well as interesting. I’ve seen a few clips, but they don’t work very well in isolation – I assume they’re more chilling if you see them in the context of the full film. Only one way to find out!

Review:

The film starts with some pleasant ‘la la la’ singing and bright pink opening credits. AAAAAAAAAAARGH!
The we see a married couple, Rosemary and Guy, moving into a new apartment that used to belong to an old woman. The two of them are very much in love and planning to have children. During their first night in the unfurnished flat, they have a picnic on the hard wooden floor and then ‘make love’ at Rosie’s behest, on the same floor. Food’s that terrible, huh?
They get on with improving the apartment and Rosie introduces herself to a woman named Terry, who’s living with an elderly couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet. Unfortunately, that night Terry appears to have committed suicide. Shame shame.
Minnie comes around to see Rosie and WOW, there’s a lot of yellow furnishings and stuff going on. Everything is yellow! Everything is yellow! It’s yellow. It’s all yellow. Look, Guy’s clothes are yellow. And Rosie and Minnie’s clothes are yellow! That’s yellow, that’s yellow, THAT’S yellow… How do you even get that much yellow stuff? Where’s Coldplay when you need them?
Anyway, the new neighbours are overbearing and nosy, but otherwise seem nice. Minnie even makes them dessert one night, and Rosie falls asleep and has a very strange dream, in which she’s on a boat in her birthday suit, then on a bed surrounded by other people in their birthday suits, and then, in Rosie’s words, she ends up being raped by someone… inhuman. Little does she know that her nightmare really begins after she wakes up.
I’d like to say that in spite of the fact that this movie had no jumpscares, only a little gore and hardly any supernatural elements, I still found it creepy as all hell. It has the same kind of slow build and atmosphere as The Birds and the same crippling paranoia as in The Thing. It’s a fantastic way to do it, because up until the end, the viewer doesn’t know if all these people are really conspiring against Rosemary and her baby, or if it’s all in Rosie’s head. Also, I can’t help feeling there’s a slight element of body horror as well. Rosie doesn’t know exactly what’s wrong with her, as the beginning part of her pregnancy involves weight loss, abdominal pains and cravings for raw liver, but it has to be pretty bad. This is also a fear many women have, that their unborn child will somehow be put in harm’s way, so I can see why this film would especially strike a chord with female audience members.
If I had to pick something I didn’t appreciate (and I think I do), well… Rosie’s husband is a jerk to her the whole way through, and she just accepts it. This is all before he turns out to be in cahoots with the witches’ coven/Satanists. He basically agrees to let the devil rape his wife and beget a little devil-child in return for a solid acting career (witches have a spell for that, apparently), and on top of that, he tells her that her haircut is awful and it’s the worst decision she’s ever made. If Rosie had a puppy-dog, I’m sure he’d kick it at least once. How long could someone like Rosie realistically be expected to put up with such behaviour? If I were her I’d be taking names and kicking arse from the very moment someone drugged me with chocolate mousse and decided who my obstetrician was going to be.
They don’t show much of Satan at all in the film – probably for the best, as the viewer’s imagination will always trump the vision of some guy in a rubber suit and glowy contact lenses. We also don’t see Rosemary’s baby after he’s born, but her horrified expression says it all. Again, good call! (Also, the witches name the child Adrian, which someone told me is a name meaning ‘King of the Sea’. Odd choice, but there you go.)

Final Verdict:

An excellent film. It made me feel something. It made me shout at the screen – in a good way. That’s what you call great storytelling. There’s a little bit of everything: invasion, betrayal, paranoia, conspiracy, witchcraft, tainted dessert, and Satanism. Good old Roman Polanski! Rosemary’s Baby is really worthy of further study and analysis; there’s probably a load of stuff I missed. I just wish someone would explain all the yellow.

Rating:

8 jam sandwiches.

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