Psychological terrorism and supernatural horror have rarely been dramatized as effectively as in this classic 1968 thriller, masterfully adapted and directed by Roman Polanski from the chilling novel by Ira Levin. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is a young, trusting housewife in New York whose actor husband (John Cassavetes), unbeknownst to her, has literally made a deal with the devil. In the thrall of a witches’ coven headquartered in their apartment building, the young husband arranges to have his wife impregnated by Satan in exchange for success in a Broadway play. To Rosemary, the pregnancy seems like a normal and happy one–that is, until she grows increasingly suspicious of her neighbors’ evil influence. Polanski establishes this seemingly benevolent situation and then introduces each fiendish little detail with such unsettling subtlety that the film escalates to a palpable level of dread and paranoia. By the time Rosemary discovers that her infant son “has his father’s eyes” … well, let’s just say the urge to scream along with her is unbearably intense! One of the few modern horror films that can claim to be genuinely terrifying, Rosemary’s Baby is an unforgettable movie experience, guaranteed to send chills up your spine.
Scary” just isn’t the right word for Roman Polanski’s “Rosemary’s Baby.” It’s an unnerving, artful, vaguely unpleasant picture that settles deep into your bones, leaving you feeling just a little unclean, as if you’ve been made uncomfortably privy to one woman’s very intimate suffering. Rosemary (Mia Farrow, looking as close to a daisy perched on two delicate stems as any human being possibly could) and her husband, Guy (a shiveringly nasty John Cassavetes), move into a new apartment building, where they’re instantly befriended by its aggressively affable elderly denizens, led by Roman and Minnie Castavet (Sidney Blackmer and Ruth Gordon, respectively).
These creepy and decidedly uncreepy (at least at first) seniors have evil plans for sweet Rosemary, arranging for Satan (whom they worship — in the nude, no less) to sire her baby without her knowing it. “Rosemary’s Baby” unfolds as a menacingly gentle fugue of paranoia, as Rosemary slowly unravels what’s happening to her. Polanski keeps the creeping sense of horror in the air without ever dangling it cheesily in front of us: When the drugged Rosemary is being prepared to meet the Dark Prince, we see her floating, fully clothed, on a mattress that’s been set adrift on a hopelessly blue Mediterranean-looking sea. Polanski cuts the sound, and the silence feels like the treacherous roar of the ocean.