10 Thoughts On the New Rosemary's Baby Remake, Part I

by Carey O'Donnell
Let me just preface by saying that even with the original Rosemary's Baby being my favorite movie of all time, I tried my best to go into this remake with somewhat of an open mind. It goes without saying, though, that no one could try to top or even enter the same orbit as the 1968 classic, but this absurd, modern effort almost comes across as downright hateful in its attempt to "revision." Woefully unnecessary and alarmingly un-scary, this remake took just about every factor that made the original movie so important, and bludgeoned them into small pieces and then took those small pieces and threw them into a literal lake of fire.

1. The most irritating part of this update was the blindingly apparent belief of the writers that every viewer watching is a fucking idiot. What made Polanski's movie so brilliant was what he left out. For most of the story, Mia Farrow's Rosemary (and all of us at home) is left wondering if she's simply going crazy. You know there's something off about Rosemary's selfish hubby Guy, Minnie and Roman Castevet, and the other elderly residents of the gothic Bramford building, but it's all implied in muffled conversations through the walls, strange dreams that may not even be dreams, and even the very color saturation -- nauseatingly deep reds. This 2014 take leaves out any of that wonderful subtlety. It actually shows Guy getting "tempted" by the new, much younger Roman Castevet (played by Jason Isaacs -- wait what?) at a Parisian sex club, a desperate young woman -- the Castevet's first attempt at an Antichrist baby carrier -- jumping to her death in the first scene (the original's suicide of the naïve Terry Gionoffrio was so shocking and confusing because we only saw the aftermath) and the incessantly gory flashbacks that illustrate the apartment building's (now called the Chimere) infamous past residents. Simply hearing Rosemary and Guy's older friend, Hutch, in the original, discussing the cannibalistic "Trench sisters," and the "dead infant wrapped in newspaper in the building's basement" is much scarier than seeing Victorian women chopping a guy up and eating him. The original's main focus was the horror of the ordinary, the familiar -- how the very place you call home can become your greatest enemy. I almost wish the writers had flashed text that read "This is important and foreboding!" whenever something obviously important and foreboding happens. It would have been less insulting.

2. WHY IS IT SET IN PARIS? Seriously. The original was set in New York City. The book is set in New York City. I believe this means a central focus of the story is that it's set in New York City. Putting it in a foreign country, where someone who is not from that foreign country is going to naturally feel alienated by default, is basically spelling it out for us that something WEEEEEEIRD is going to happen. I guess they didn't film it in New York City because they were afraid people would throw trash at them if they saw them filming it.

3.They chose to make Minnie and Roman (sorry, Minnie's name is Margaux in this) these sexy, rich, middle-aged Europeans who wear chic black ensembles every day. The wonderful part about Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer being the villains was that they were grossly unassuming. They were elderly, clothed in hideous outfits; Minnie's amount of makeup was almost oppressive, and her jewelry clinked and clanked whenever she walked. They were comical to Rosemary and Guy at first, but as they start to get more and more involved in the young couple's lives, their "Oh, they're harmless" ways became all the more maddening and menacing, making them so profoundly more terrifying than these overtly dangerous younger versions.

4. Zoe Saldana is a very good actress, but you can really sense her discomfort in this role. You can see her thinking "Oh, fuck, why did I agree to do this?" the whole time, which is unfortunate, because she doesn't get to show off her chops at all. The script has her rushing into paranoia from the start after she's already feeling vulnerable from a tragic miscarriage three months prior. She distrusts her overly generous Parisian neighbors immediately. Polanski took his time with having Rosemary feel endangered, so as she begins to unravel and doubt herself, and then everyone else, and then herself again, you feel like you're losing it with her.

5. Margaux and Roman give Guy and Rosemary a black cat as a "welcome to Paris!" gift on the first night they meet them. Movie aside, how is this plausible in any realm? "Hey! You're young and poor, and not from this country. Take care of this living being that could probably watch you choke to death on a piece of meat and not even flinch."

6. There's a fire that destroys Rosemary and Guy's shitty apartment, which is part of the faculty housing at the school where Guy teaches. Later when Margaux asks Rosemary what caused the fire, she's like, "IDK! I think we left our hot plate on!" GOD DAMN HOT PLATES!

7. The only thing that actually made me jump was an extremely random moment where Rosemary walks into her new apartment at Margaux and Roman's building and a mentally handicapped handyman comes galloping towards her on all fours and roars. We can imagine the two writers sitting together, saying, "Let's just put that in there! That's just what happens when you live in Paris!" They both laugh and laugh.

8. In the scene where Guy and Rosemary are about to slip out of Margaux and Roman's fancy party full of fancy devil worshippers, Roman exclaims, "You can't leave yet! This is Paris!" Yes! Paris! PARIS!!!!! We are all in Paris!

9. There's a handsome, blue-eyed man who may or may not be Satan/Adrian Marcato -- the original movie's infamous witch father -- who keeps appearing with a sharp dragon cane and making Rosemary hoooooorny. Why doesn't he just wear a nametag that says "Hello my name is Not Satan. (I'm really not)" and then another one that says "Really, though. I'm not!"

10. This version takes itself dreadfully too seriously; the original was, in lots of ways, like a dark, surreal comedy. It was absolutely terrifying but never felt like it was trying to be scary. Which is why it was so perfect. It was like this perverse take on a rom-com. It's really a shame that this 2014 version was even made, but I guess we can just be thankful the Michael Bay remake never happened.

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