Movie I’ve Seen: Halloween Edition
Because it’s Halloween today, and I sometimes super enjoy getting scared out of my mind . . . here’s a a scary movie recommendation. This may or may not mean anything to you. Enjoy either way. 🙂
So what constitutes a horror film? Well, to me it is a film that startles me, one that makes me anxious, and as it ridiculous as it may sound, one where the story can be considered plausible. Because really, things are only really scary if they can really happen to you. So here’s one that does just that.
Roman Polanski’s 1968 masterpiece, Rosemary’s Baby, just emits an underlying creepiness right from the beginning. This is mostly thanks to what sounds like our protagonist, Rosemary, humming an eerie lullaby as the camera pans over the Dakota (you know, the building in New York that’s widely known as the location of the murder of John Lennon). I remember thinking to myself, “Uhhh, what’s going on here?”
The plot: The film follows Rosemary Woodhouse as her world turns into a nightmarish downward free fall. Her world figuratively and literally becomes hell on earth. After moving into a new apartment building in Manhattan with her unemployed actor husband, Guy, they set out to start a family. Sounds OK for far, yes?
The conditions soon darken as their neighbors, an older couple, Minnie and Roman Castevet, take an interest in the Woodhouse’s (Seriously, what is it about creepy and invasive neighbors that “up” the scary factor of a movie?). Guy’s lacking acting career then suddenly begins to get some breaks when a rival actor for a part in a play mysteriously goes blind. Then, other really weird stuff starts to happen: Rosemary begins to hear odd noises coming from the Castevet’s apartment, and a neighbor Rosemary becomes friendly with unexpectedly commits suicide.
This is the magic of the film — the story seems plausible, like it could actually happen. Everything is slow-paced . . . Guy gets chummy with the neighbors, Rosemary doesn’t like them too much, Guy gets a job via a crazy morbid technicality, her friend dies . . . Obviously, like any of us would, she starts to feel a bit peeved out.
Here’s the kicker: One night, soon after all these ominous events, Rosemary has a dream. She found it to be so real, however that she is honestly unsure about the validity of her hallucinatory nightmare as just a dream. Some weeks later, Rosemary finds out she’s pregnant and under the care of Dr. Sapirstein.
What was this dream you ask? Well, uh, she’s atop JFK’s yacht being raped by the devil. Quite possibly the most unsettling sentence you’ll ever read in your life, I know.
Her pregnancy is difficult — she’s losing weight, has abdominal pain, and craves stuff like raw liver. Nevertheless, Dr. Sapirstein tells her that there is nothing wrong. Rosemary’s suspicions grow . . . as ours do too. She then goes into labor.
When she awakens she is told the baby has died. Days later, however, she hears a baby crying next door. Rosemary then comes face to face with a coven of devil worshippers praying to her child, the son of Satan. Turns out her neighbors, the Castevet’s, her doctor, and Guy, her husband are devil worshippers — Guy being the newest member by essentially selling Rosemary and her baby to the devil for job opportunities. And obviously, it turns out, her nightmare was real.
They urge her to come see the baby, and the new mother’s instinct wins out as the film ends with Rosemary rocking the cradle.
Not only is this the scariest prospect — having the devil’s baby. But what’s possibly worst is that Rosemary is all alone during this entire ordeal. Rosemary is isolated — she feels like she can’t confide in her friends and family because they’re all acting off, and she just can’t figure why. Even her husband, who should be her most trusted ally, is in on the dark plan. Really, her life sucks.
Unlike most horror films that build up to a gory murder (or something to that extent), which fulfills the purpose relieving the tension before the next fright, Polanski continuously builds the tension (Rosemary discovering one disturbing thing after the other . . .), never letting the pressure loosen for one second.
Watch it tonight, I say.