Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary's Baby ★★★★★

For me, Rosemary’s Baby is the best horror film of all time. It operates so highly on every level. A newlywed couple, Rosemary (Mia Farrow) and Guy (John Cassavetes) appear idyllic when we’re introduced to them as they shop for a new Manhattan apartment. But when there’s a massive lack in one person there becomes a sagging lack in anyrelationship. Guy is a struggling actor and Rosemary tells everyone who’ll listen the two plays and commercials that he’s appeared in. This should sound like support, but to Guy it’s a reminder of his perceived failure. In their new apartment building they befriend some old kooks (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) down the hall.

In one hellish sequence, Rosemary drifts off to sleep on an bed on water, catches glimpses of Satan climbing atop her while Guy, the neighbors and other creeps, watch the demon claw and thrust and not do not assist her as she cries. In the morning, she wakes up nude with claw marks all over her. Her husband says that he decided to impregnate her even though she was asleep because he was in the mood and they’d talked about it. So what if she was “drunk.” Rosemary later thinks that she was raped by the Devil and that Guy promised the Devil’s child to their Satanist neighbors to better his career.

Not only is the ceremony one of the most terrifying and transfixing sequences ever committed to film, it’s one of cinema’s biggest violations. There’s a violation of trust and body so profound in the ceremony, but it’s further insulted by Guy’s lax cover-up of “I wanted you right then.” The rest of the film shows Rosemary completely unable to have agency for any choice involving her body. Everything is decided by the elders and by the male doctors; even the one she trusts, Dr. Hill (Charles Grodin), who she chose on her own, hands her over to a different doctor because he thinks she’s unstable. Every man silences her and thinks she has no idea what is going on in her body. With many men still feeling fuzzy and woozy (like Rosemary on her drugged bed) about what actually constitutes consent and choice, Rosemary’s Baby is still one of the most terrifying and necessary films ever made. Of course, it’s made more complicated by everything that happened thereafter, but even without Polanski’s future parallels of his wife's ritualistic murder at home and his own drugged rape thereafter, it’s a perfect film before future parallels are even applied.

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