Rosemary’s Baby fit into that category of “horror” movies that are much more disturbing than scary. I would put The Omen in that category (and argue for the inclusion of The Exorcist too). That doesn’t make it any less of a horror movie though, as what you are seeing can be very disturbing and distressing, just not in a “jump and spill your popcorn” kind of way.
It’s not a scary movie but you do feel desperate for Rosemary as she begins to mistrust and doubt those around her, including her own husband. The seeds are sown very early, with one particularly strange scene involving the conception of the baby itself, and it’s up to Rosemary and the audience to try to piece together the puzzle and mystery surrounding her pregnancy.
Mia Farrow is fantastic as Rosemary. She plays the sweet innocent girl very well but also portrays the descent into paranoia, madness and illness brilliantly too. She seems so weak and vulnerable that the scenes where she is clearly being mistreated and manipulated are so much more effective.
She is surrounded by a creepy cast but the person that takes the “weirdest character of the movie” award is Ruth Gordon as neighbour Minnie. The way she intrudes on Rosemary’s life is both bizarre, horrifying and sometimes very funny, particularly when Rosemary does manage to get the better of her.
The movie does suffer from the fact that audiences have become much more aware of what Rosemary’s Baby is actually about. Time has meant that the movie and it’s main “revelation” has seeped into popular culture. It means that we have figured out the “mystery” far before Rosemary does and often watch impatiently as she tries to discover something we all already know. It isn’t quite dramatic irony because the story isn’t designed that way, it’s just the curse of an older, classic movie.
Rosemary’s Baby deserves the title of classic too. It presents its story in a very chilling, calculated manner and ends the movie in an even more chilling manner. When we finally get the scene with Rosemary’s Baby, it feels like a great climax and pay-off to all the build-up but does miss one, major dramatic moment, that is clearly missing because of the constraints on audience and effects.
Overall, Rosemary’s Baby is another sixties/seventies movie that focuses on being much more chilling and disturbing than outright scary. It presents a nightmare situation to an innocent and helpless young woman and leaves the audience to watch-on, helpless themselves. Its become an iconic, classic movie, which does harm it in some way, but its made up for in the final moments of the film, which satisfy the slow build-up.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)