October is here, and that means viewership of all things horror goes way up, as casual fans join those of us with a more year-round sanguineous bent in watching all the hauntings, slicings, possessions, hexes, et al that horror has to offer.
We’re just going to offer a helpful tip for your horror consumption: your horror viewing experience isn’t just incomplete, it’s inadequate until you have seen what is unquestionably one of the creepiest and most captivating movies ever made: Rosemary’s Baby.
An adaptation of the Ira Levin novel by director Roman Polanski, Rosemary’s Baby is part of the triumvirate of classic films — the others being The Exorcist and The Omen – that helped usher in a new era of horror, one marked by psychologically-focused terror, and not an ensemble cast of monsters.
Although Rosemary’s Baby is rightly-regarded as an all-time classic movie, it doesn’t always reach the same popular culture level as its devilish brethren. From a personal standpoint, we’ve come across a shocking number of people who have never seen it. While the Exorcist is habitually cited as the “scariest movie ever” (it isn’t, but that’s another story) and The Omen is reliably popular and frequently referenced, Rosemary’s Baby can feel more like a museum piece, appreciated by aficionados but not loved on the visceral level of fandom.
We won’t tiptoe through a vague, spoiler-free summary of the entire plot, but for the uninitiated, Rosemary’s Baby is the story of a young housewife, played by Mia Farrow who, after moving into a New York apartment building with a dark past, slowly begins to unravel a sinister conspiracy being woven around her and her unborn baby.
Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t have blood, gore, torture or jump scares. Not to say those things don’t make for good horror in their own right, but Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t need any of them. The real genius in this movie is in its ability to fill the most mundane, everyday situations — answering the phone, running into a talkative neighbor, doctor’s appointments, and meeting a friend downtown — with an underlying dread.
This dread is intensified by Rosemary’s, more or less, total emotional isolation from the moment she is drawn into the dark conspiracy. She is married, and between the over familiar neighbors, friends and doctors, she is around people on a regular basis, but it all occurs on a surface level. When it comes to the increasingly strange events happening around Rosemary, her forebodings are either explained away, or dismissed as the stress-induced paranoia of a hysterical, pregnant woman.
Ultimately, the only other party involved that actually knows what’s going on is the audience, who are just as powerless as Rosemary to actually do anything about it, leaving them to watch as the conspiracy plays out to its conclusion. It’s also worth noting that the closing scenes of Rosemary’s Baby contain some of the most iconic moments in the entire horror canon. This October, do yourself a favor and add Rosemary’s Baby to your watch list.
Rosemary’s Baby is available to view on iTunes.