Rosemary’s Baby, 1968 – ★★★★

I’d read this novel and watched the film back in high school, when my attention span was lesser and my desires from horror were more torrid. Back then I’d thought the film rather dull, if noting the conception/dream sequence as something luridly special. Today, looking back on it, I see exactly what it was that I couldn’t get back then, the nuance of the gaslighting happening here, and the inversion of the immaculate conception mythology. Putting the film and novel in context in 1968, when the swinging 60s were all but over, and free love was giving way to consequence and abortion, Rosemary’s struggle with the patriarchal society that surrounds her and constantly tells her what to do and how to think, the horror is all the more real now. Mia Farrow’s performance, at times the breathy WIFE archetype of the day, is mostly nuanced and well played, especially her “What have you done to his eyes?” delivery. Ruth Gordon hands down walks away with the film, as believable a witch as the old biddy next store. Of interesting note on this viewing is how Rosemary’s horror slowly turns into a smile at the end, making me wonder if Ari Astor was thinking of this when he conceived his Midsommar ending.

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