Mystery Fest: Rosemary's Baby
1968 horror movie
Plot: A couple move into a new apartment building and make friends with the neighbors, an eccentric couple who may or may not be friends with the devil. The titular wife becomes pregnant and soon starts to believe that somebody is after her unborn child.
This is the rare (and maybe even unique) horror movie that actually manages to be creepier when you watch it a second or third or fourth time. Other horror movies might grab you the first time you watch them, but on subsequent viewings, you know when that guy with the mask is going to pop out of the closet or that hand's going to grab the woman's foot Tommy Wiseau's going to show his ass to the audience or that kid's going to wake up as Tom Hanks.
And if you know what's going to happen and when it's going to happen, you're just not going to be all that scared. Of course, Polanski isn't just trying to scare us in Rosemary's Baby. He's trying to get under our skin. The strength of this is the atmosphere and a slowly-unfolding mystery that will have you guessing about Rosemary's psychological well-being and the motivations of the other characters until the very end and, I suppose, even after the ending if you're the type of person who doesn't like to take the visuals at face value. And with this story, if you where it all goes, it deepens all of the seemingly prosaic scenes in the first half of the movie. Chilling stuff, even that song that plays over the opening credits which I just read was sung (wordlessly) by Mia Farrow herself. And I don't feel like I discuss fonts enough on this blog, but the pink cursive font over the panorama of the city is perfect here. Something else you notice when you watch this movie second or third or fourth times is the amount of long shots--the first tour of the apartment, the scene in the phone booth. That apartment's filled with shadows, and you just know that there are demons ready to pop out of there and perform little demonic dances although they never do. And that ever-present ticking clock? The atmosphere's organic, and you'd think it's the kind of thing that could be easily duplicated, but I can't think of many examples. I like both Farrow and Cassavetes although "Guy Woodhouse" is a silly name. Of course, when Ruth Gordon is in a movie, she's going to get most of the attention. Man, is she awesome. There's this little rat face she makes near the end of the movie that is about the best thing I've ever seen, and there's another great shot of her through a peephole. I love her cadence, such a unique delivery. Sidney Blackmer's great as her husband, too. This is the sort of movie you watch and never ever forget, mostly because of the weirdness at the climax with the titular spawn and a great dream sequence or whatever it turns out to be involving ominous shadows, chanting, and a Satan/Rosemary kinky sex scene. Oh, and please don't forget that this movie's also darkly funny at times. Guy Woodhouse's "Kind of fun in a necrophile sort of way" the morning after the Rosemary/Satan sex scene is the best example of that.