I meant to watch Lonely Are the Brave, the movie based on the Ed Abbey novel The Brave Cowboy that I read recently. But I couldn’t find it on my neighbor’s Netflix. So we watched Rosemary’s Baby, instead. Also based on a book, but one I haven’t read, this is a 1968 horror movie directed by Roman Polanski and starring Mia Farrow.
Rosemary (Farrow) and her husband Guy move into an apartment in New York City with big rooms and a strange history; in fact the whole building is known for odd and eerie happenings, including the suicide of a young woman Rosemary meets once when she moves in. Rosemary is trying to become pregnant. Guy makes friends with the rather nosy, creepy older couple that lives down the hall, the Castevets. After a strange night when it seems that Rosemary has been drugged, she does become pregnant, and she’s thrilled; but the experience is mostly pain & suffering. The Castevets set her up with an obstetrician who prescribes herbal drinks mixed by Mrs. Castevet, and doesn’t take seriously Rosemary’s extreme pain. And when the baby is born… well. If you want the spoilers, they’re out there on the internet.
Despite its age, which sometimes weakens the effect of movies like this one which rely upon emotional impact (when they seem dated, silly, or have poor special effects), Rosemary’s Baby succeeded in freaking me out. It was noticeably dated, of course, in terms of Rosemary’s outfits, the decor of the apartment, and the somewhat revolting gender roles in Rosemary and Guy’s marriage. Funnily, it reminded me of The Shining, made fuller 12 years later in 1980: the opening scene has Rosemary & Guy being shown around the apartment they will rent, full of a sense of foreboding, and recalled the scene in The Shining when Jack Torrance and family are shown around the Overlook Hotel. This datedness was rather charming, though, and any connection I felt to The Shining could only do it good. And the creepy factor was fully there. Neighbor Gracie and I both wished they had shown a particular frightening item at the end of the movie, which we only see through Rosemary’s horrified reaction; but with the special effects available at the time it would have been poorly done, which is clearly why Polanski refrained, for the best.
A quick dip into a disturbing story, well done, even after 45 years.