Rosemary's Baby (1968) Directed by Roman Polanski from the book by Ira Levin
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Rosemary: What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!
Roman Castevet: He has his father's eyes.
Rosemary: What do you mean? Guy's eyes are normal!
Rosemary and Guy (Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes) are a young married couple. Guy is an actor, hoping for a big break. They move into the Branford (The Dakota), an apartment with a particularly colorful history of witchcraft and mass murder.
Everything is wonderful; the neighbors Minnie and Roman Castavet (Ruth Gordon, who won an Oscar for the role, and Sidney Blackmer) are a dear older couple who adopt the Woodhouses as their special project.
Things start to fall Rosemary and Guy's way; an actor is stricken blind, and Guy gets his part. With a steady job and a cozy house, Guy agrees it is time for a baby.
The conception is a little marred by dreams, as much of her sleep in the Branford has been. But if that was the only thing, it would have been alright.
But as Rosemary discovers she is pregnant, the oddities mount. Her doctor has her drink an herb drink that Minnie helpfully makes. Rosemary looses weight, is in pain and listless, she is convinced something is wrong. Hutch (Maurice Evans) their dear old landlord sees it, her friends see it. But Dr. Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy) is unconcerned; just keep up the vitamin drinks.
Rosemary begins to suspect something is horribly wrong. Further, she fears those who are closest to her, that claim to love her the most, are doing *something*....something secretive and malign.
Isolated from her old life, smothered by the attentions of the Castavets' clique, and betrayed by Guy's insistence that her concerns are baseless, Rosemary doesn't know where to turn.
We know how this turns out; it is really horribly predictable...yet this is consistently one of the top ten horror movies on everyone's list. Why?
Well, Roman was slavishly devoted to the book; his reproduction may well be the closest to the original work ever done by Hollywood.
His skill at direction builds a pervasive mood, tightening the tension by tiny but additive degrees. Nothing is too bizarre, nothing far from the normal, but just enough offset to be disconcerting.
Then there is the extraordinary strength of the performances...it is rare that every single actor is top flight; it is rarer still for them to work with such synergistic brilliance; this is one of the reasons this movie has never been remade; no performance could improve.
The menace is subdued, understated, and unmistakable. The story is predictable, but deeply disturbing because of that predictability; like watching the teenagers enter the basement of the abandoned house, you know no good will come of it, and you still can't look away.
The horror comes not from monsters, but from the sheer normalcy of everything; this is our world, these are our neighbors, this could happen to you.
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