Starring: Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon
Director: Roman Polanski
Running Time: 136 mins
Rosemary’s Baby is an American film about a young woman, who, after moving into a new apartment with her husband, becomes mysteriously pregnant, and begins to fear for the safety of her unborn child amidst the strange surroundings of the apartment building.
This is an all-time classic of the psychological horror genre. On the whole, it’s an interesting film to watch, thanks to an excellent central performance by Mia Farrow, strong direction by Roman Polanski and a hugely exhilarating finale. However, it suffers from hugely slow pacing and little real tension for the first two-thirds, meaning that this is nowhere near as exhilarating a watch as you would expect.
However, let’s start with what is the most consistently impressive part of the film: Mia Farrow. In a role full of trauma and despair, Farrow brilliantly pulls off this young woman’s feelings of terror and confusion as she goes through an unorthodox pregnancy. Although it may not be the scariest or most intense film to watch for the most part, the one thing that you can be sure of is that Mia Farrow is fantastic right the way through, and because of her performance, you are at least able to have some emotional attachment to the story that makes the ultimate climax a lot more exciting.
Roman Polanski’s direction is also intriguing. Again, it’s not a particularly scary or eerie film for the first hour and forty-five minutes, but Polanski does a good job of bringing in a strong air of mystery right from the off. He subtly manages to make everything seem quite unnerving through the pretence of a generic haunted house concept, and as a result contributes hugely to the massive excitement in the final act.
The problem with this film is that it just doesn’t pick up and get going quickly enough. Despite the subtleties of Polanski’s direction and the brilliance of Mia Farrow’s acting, there’s nothing truly exhilarating or scary to get you really engrossed in its story. There may be weird things going on, but there are very few damaging consequences that make it seem so genuinely perilous.
However, the slow-paced plot eventually picks up in the final half hour, which is a massively exciting period. At this point, everything begins to tie together perfectly, and it makes for brilliant intrigue and excitement as Rosemary struggles to comprehend a confusing reality, with a final reveal that really makes you think and wonder a huge amount.
So, if this film were like the final half hour from the get go, then it would have unbelievably exhilarating. Farrow and Polanski are excellent, but the fault is with the pacing and content of the main bulk of the story, that just doesn’t provide enough genuine intrigue, danger or thrills, and that’s why this gets a 7.2 from me.