A young couple move into an apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.
Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.
There is panic throughout the nation as the dead suddenly come back to life. The film follows a group of characters who barricade themselves in an old farmhouse in an attempt to remain safe from these flesh eating monsters.
Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into an apartment in an opulent but gothic building in Manhattan. Their landlord Edward "Hutch" Hutchins attempts to dissuade them from doing so: the building has an unsavory history. They discover that their neighbors are a very friendly elderly couple named Roman and Minnie Castevet, and Guy begins to spend a great deal of time with them. Strange things begin to happen: a young woman Rosemary meets in the laundry commits suicide, Rosemary has strange dreams and hears strange noises and Guy becomes remote and distant. Then Rosemary falls pregnant and begins to suspect that her neighbors have special plans for her child. Written by
"Rosemary's Baby" is one of the best horror films ever made. This isn't because it's going to scare the pants off you with a series of sensational jolts. This isn't the shallow, gimmicky kind of horror movie we mostly get these days, and it isn't the traditional old-fashioned horror film of an earlier era. This is a movie that came out during a period of transition in Hollywood. The old production codes were breaking down and films could suddenly be more true to life in the way they showed how people really lived, acted and talked. 1968s "Rosemary's Baby" is a more sophisticated, less elegant thriller of the kind that Alfred Hitchcock patented, but it displays much more class and intelligence than the horror movies that would come out in its wake. Popular '70s films such as "The Exorcist" and "The Omen" are the prodigy of "Rosemary's Baby," but offer far less nuance and much greater vulgarity. What we get here is a more naturalistic depiction of modern life, but without the crassness that would soon explode into American cinema.
Most of the credit for what makes "Rosemary's Baby" such a successful film goes to Roman Polanski. Polanski is a master at conveying to an audience not just a sense of the uncanny but a vivid depiction of it. His earlier films like "Knife in the Water," "Repulsion" and "Dance of the Vampires," display the talents that would come to such a controlled mastery in "Rosemary's Baby."
Polanski very faithfully adapts Ira Levin's novel to the screen so that the viewer is, just as the reader was, free to interpret the eerie events of the story as either reality or a depiction of an isolated woman's decent into madness. At the same time the picture can be taken as a black joke on the human male's fears of the changes a woman goes through during pregnancy, both physically and emotionally. But Polanski seems most interested in presenting a normal world, in this case Manhattan in the mid 1960s, and then through subtle cinematic techniques get an audience to actually believe that the hysterical, fantastic ravings of the heroine could be true. It is this tour de force exercise in suspension of disbelief that makes the film a classic. The horror films that have come since have had to ratchet up the shock effects in order to thrill more desensitized audiences, but this deliberately paced film reminds us of how much better it is to leave things to the imagination of the viewer. That is where films really come alive and remain so.
The Paramount DVD presents an excellent print of the movie that looks as if it were shot yesterday, along with extras that include new interviews with Polanski, executive producer Bob Evans and production designer Richard Sylbert, and a featurette from the time of the film's original release that really works as a good time capsule.
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