Rosemary’s Baby is going to mess with your head, freak you out, scare you, and keep you up at night. An absolutely amazing piece of psychological horror! The book or the movie, it doesn’t matter. They are a little different from each other, but not by much. To be honest, I recommend both reading it and watching it! You get two different experiences. The book was published in 1967 and written by Ira Levin. The movie was released in 1968 and directed by Roman Polanski. They’re both amazing.
Newlyweds Rosemary and Guy move into an apartment in an old, Gothic-looking building, even though they had heard stories that Satanic rituals may have been performed there. They meet an eccentric older couple, the Castevets, in the building after a tenant commits suicide. After dinner at the Castevets’ apartment one night, Rosemary feels like they drugged her. That night she dreams about a demon raping her and wakes up with scratches on her body (if you are easily triggered by rape scenes, please don’t watch that part). Soon after, she finds out that she’s pregnant.
Meanwhile, her husband finally gets his big break. He’s so happy with his new life that he even claims that he scratched her because he raped her in her sleep (asshole). He also grows closer to the Castevets and Rosemary doesn’t like it. He starts acting distant, which makes her increasingly needy as her pregnancy advances. Guy develops a very close relationship with the Castevets. Rosemary doesn’t trust them. She starts investigating them, and the rumors of satanic rituals in the building. If you’re not familiar with the book or movie, I won’t spoil the rest for you.
We all know that reading a book lets you develop pictures in your mind. After a few chapters, you can picture what everyone and everything looks like. You make your own movie in your head. In my case, it can backfire sometimes. When I see the movie, I don’t always agree with the casting choices, and decide that I cast it better in my head! But not this time.
Roman Polanski worked closely with Ira Levin on the script. Other than a few subtle changes, he stayed true to the story. There are so many movies set in Gothic buildings with some kind of supernatural or Satanic backstory, but this one is right up near the top. All the terror is psychological, not visual. You don’t watch people get ripped apart, or have gore every other minute. The occult is present during the entire movie, but it isn’t shoved in your face. And unlike a lot of horror movies, the end isn’t predictable.
I know many die-hard horror junkies that have avoided watching classic horror films because they prefer movies with lots of blood, guts, and gore. I do too. But trust me and give Rosemary’s Baby a shot. This movie just hits different.
A few fun facts about Rosemary’s Baby:
- Ira Levin said that it is “the single, most faithful adaptation of a novel ever to come out of Hollywood”. William Castles speculated that this was because it was the first time that Polanski had ever adapted another writer’s work, and didn’t know that he was free to make changes
- The name of their building, The Bramford, is Ira Levin’s homage to Bram Stoker
- Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra got divorced because filming took too long and kept from acting in another movie that they would have starred in together
- The Bramford is modeled after The Dakota apartment building in New York City, which is where John Lennon lived and was killed.
- The scene where Rosemary walks into oncoming traffic was real. Polanski told her that it would be fine because “Nobody will hit a pregnant woman”
- To film that scene, Polanski walked into traffic behind her using a handheld camera because no one else would do it.
- Mia Farrow actually ate the raw liver in the movie.
- She also sang the lullaby in the opening credits.
- The baby’s due date was June 6, 1966.
- The movie is supposedly cursed: