This film is a classic, and after watching it, it’s easy to see why. Here is another horror film that will make you decide against children if you’re on the fence! Polanski’s iconic film still haunts audiences today–while this film doesn’t rely on gore or creepy visual cues to scare, the mental suggestion wears you down as a viewer right along Rosemary as her pregnancy physically wears her down. I found myself right on the edge of my seat until the very end.
The premise of the film–a young couple starting their family and building up their home together, only to be thwarted by forces of evil–seems all the more terrifying because, again, there is that “it could happen you to” vibe. Rosemary and her husband Guy are the All-American couple; they are upper-middle class, decent, and happy people. Watching their descent into this hellish nightmare makes all viewers wary of their own circumstances.
Of course, there is the fear and horror of the female body present throughout the film as well; Rosemary is treated like a “silly little thing” every time she tries to express the pain and discomfort she feels throughout her pregnancy. All the males in her life try to comfort her by keeping her body’s functions a mysterious occurrence that she simply couldn’t understand because of her inferior intelligence. Rather than openly discuss what she is going through, or educate her on her own body, they give her pills and pat her head telling her it’s “normal” and “everything will be fine.” Not to mention, of course, that Rosemary only becomes pregnant because her husband date rapes her. If we view these particular aspects of the film, it plays on gender quite a bit. To me the scariest part is the manipulation of Rosemary’s body for the pleasures of everyone else in the film. She is an object rather than a person, and is treated as such.
Of course, we must also factor in the Satanic worship and the devil-child that Rosemary bears at the end of the film. This would have been (and still is, actually) a very real fear for certain populations of this country. Many Christians actually believe in a real danger of Satan coming back to earth and destroying mankind, which is why Satanic figures are so prevalent in popular culture. The American subconscious, heralding back to the days of the Puritans that settled here, is rife with warnings and fears of Satan and all the chaos he brings.
Probably the best part of the film (in my humble opinion) is the end when all of the elderly ladies are drinking tea and saying “Hail Satan.” That still makes me laugh out loud. I suppose the lesson here is that evil takes many forms; it will sometimes be conjured in the least likely places, so beware all.