Film Flashback: Rosemary’s Baby

By: Brett Slaughenhaupt – Staff Writer

If you are a fan of slow-burner, anxiety-inducing, nail-destroying films that artfully display horror to the effect of Kubrick’s classic, The Shining, modern John Carpenter homage It Follows, or Austrian indie Goodnight Mommy, then you will want to watch pre-Academy Award winner and sex convict Roman Polanski’s classic Rosemary’s Baby. There wasn’t a film like it when it came out, and there still isn’t a film that has worked so effectively to captivate its audience.

Coming out this week, 58 years ago on June 13, 1968, it was instantly beloved and reviled simultaneously. The film deals with Satanism, along with female sexuality and rape, which still aren’t the lightest of topics to touch on, but was especially taboo to audiences then.

The ability of horror to exist around the corner, just outside the frame is what has allowed the film to age so beautifully. It is the performances of the main actors – Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes, as the titular Rosemary and her actor husband, Guy – that give the film the life that it needs to grow into something truly terrifying. The lengths that Farrow goes to truthfully portray her breakdown is inspiring and harrowing.

If Leonardo DiCaprio can build rhetoric behind eating raw bison strong enough to lead to an Oscar win, there is no reason that should not have happened to Farrow (and she actually used her acting skills!).

Beyond being beautifully crafted, the film can exist in many different worlds – similar to that of recent Australian horror The Babadook. You can watch it just for the thrills and terrors, of which it has many that may lead to a night with the lights on. But you can watch it again for the psychological aspects. Like ogres, this film has layer upon layers to dissect. Whether you want to view through a feminist lens, medical analysis, or strictly for enjoyment, you will not be at a loss for content.

Iconic in its imagery and ability to build suspense beyond its breaking point, there’s a reason that Rosemary’s Baby is on many a list of best horror features. It is not one to be missed.