DIRECTOR: Roman Polanski
“Pray for Rosemary’s Baby”
Watching this, I wondered if this was a major influence of the whole “lone woman fighting against the odds” horror sub-genre. Rosemary Woodhouse (Mai Farrow) is a New York housewife who moves into an apartment block with her husband. Soon after, she has a nightmare, in which Satan seems to rape her and she then finds that she is pregnant and the building’s other residents seem to show an unhealthy interest in the child.
She begins to suspect that her husband has entered into a pact with his new neighbours to sacrifice the baby to Satan, in order to help his acting career. It later becomes clear that the baby is indeed the spawn of Satan, who the building’s residents worship and she was indeed the vessel for his coming.
The tension is slow burn, as is the majority of the film as it focuses on her pregnancy and growing isolation. The resident doctor and the other residents try to convince her and those around her that she is going mad due to the pregnancy and her husband may or may not be involved, but it’s clear that she no longer trusts him, and I’m not surprised! She is left vulnerable and fighting in vain to protect her unborn child.
Farrow plays the role perfectly, slowly slipping from the mundanely of normal life into the madness of paranoia of primal terror, doing so in away which I believe has served as an influence on the genre as a whole. It’s a creepy film and I can only imagine that back in 1968, it would have been a terrifying one, with simple and primal themes cutting deep into the narrative and tone. But 42 years later, the impact has been softened by the fact that the setting is dated and alien to a modern audience, therefore lacking the ambiance of “this could happen to you”, and the fact that this has been done again and again since.
A definite classic and a solid watch, but more creepy than scary, nowadays.