Rosemary’s Baby: Part 2

Rosemarys Baby - Poster

As with pretty much all my write-ups, there are spoilers ahead.  Be ye warned.

You can read my thoughts on Part 1 here.
Part 1 ended with the infamous rape scene, in which Rosemary is drugged and impregnated by a blue-eyed devil (“Equinsu ocha! Equinsu ocha!”) while a gaggle of vaguely bored partygoers look on.

We pick up Part 2 with Rosemary wondering what happened that night.  Though she kept repeating, “This is really happening,” she didn’t quite seem to believe that statement in the harsh light of day.  Still, something seemed amiss, and it wasn’t long before Margaux Castevet sensed that Rosemary was pregnant.  You know what they say: Satanists are always the first to know.

We are then treated to many scenes in which a visibly ill Rosemary is struggling to make it through the day, while her entire “support group” tells her that everything is fine, that’s just how pregnancy is, it’ll all be fine, drink this Tannis Root shake really really fast your devil baby is fine.
This is where Zoe Saldana really shines.  In my thoughts on Part 1, I talked about how well she plays paranoia.  I would like to add “sick and panicked” to the list of things Saldana does really well.

While Rosemary tried not to die from her baby, her husband Guy was increasingly distant as he rode a tidal wave of success on the back of his new novel.  “I know you say you hurt really bad, but I’m looking at a movie deal for this, so I’ll be going to this party while you shake and cry uncontrollably.  Loveyoubye!”

"Don't worry, baby. All pregnancies are like this."
“Don’t worry, baby. All pregnancies are like this.”

Through all of this, the only person who genuinely cared about Rosemary was her friend Julie.  Julie was able to convince Rosemary to see a non-Satanic doctor for a second opinion about the abomination growing inside of her.  The doctor decides he needs to see a little more than he can from a simple ultrasound and schedules and MRI.  Apparently ultrasounds can’t detect pure, unadulterated evil.
Guy does not like this one bit.  He is mad that Rosemary would dare stray outside the cultish circle of the Castavets.  And, for some reason, Rosemary immediately folds to his demands.  That made no sense to me.  He had not been supportive to that point, and she felt something was wrong.  She was also a strong woman.  It seems like she would have fought back harder than she did.  It didn’t seem in her character to give in quite so easily, stranger-in-a-strange-land or no.

Even though Rosemary agreed not to get an MRI, Guy wasn’t taking any chances.  He visited Julie, engaged in a little one-sided passionate necking, and stole her cross necklace.  Apparently witches can’t cast spells while someone is wearing a cross.  Good to know.
Not long after, Julie got got in a scene that was reminiscent of Final Destination.  From the beginning of Part 1, I knew Julie wouldn’t make it out alive.  At least she went out in a blaze of glory.  So long, Julie.  A woman so kind as yourself wasn’t fit to live in this world of devils.

After Julie’s untimely demise, Rosemary’s only confidant left in this world is Commissioner Fontaine, a policeman who believes something strange is going on with the Castavets.  If there’s one thing I learned from Fontaine, it’s this: if you’re somehow able to survive a drive across a city while suffering from sweaty vertigo and bloody tears, make sure you look both ways when you cross the street once you actually get out of your car.
In a battle of the best deaths in this series, I’ll take Julie, but Fontaine is a close second.

From here, it pretty much takes the route of the movie (that is to say, the movie as I remember it).  Sadly, it was missing the man casually proclaiming “Hail Satan,” while raising his wine glass.  I loved that guy.

"I'm here for the ladies."
“I’m here for the ladies.”

In keeping with Part 1, there was no subtlety.  When Rosemary finally sees the baby, the camera makes sure you see that the baby has piercing blue eyes.  Just like Roman Castavet!  You know, in case you hadn’t been paying attention for the past 4 hours.
I loved the last shot, though.  Rosemary looked beautiful walking along the river with her stroller.  “What a lovely baby,” passerbys would say at the spawn of evil in the basket.  “Won’t the end of the world be an adorable one?”

My thoughts on Part 2 are similar to those on Part 1: it wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t necessary.  Zoe Saldana was amazing, and there were a few of great scenes, but I don’t understand the reasoning behind this.  It didn’t add anything to the original, and it didn’t really forge its own path.  It was fine, but, ultimately, unnecessary.  I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it.  For the most part, it was pretty forgettable.  If you want to see it, I’ll encourage you to do so.  If you have no desire to see it, I’ll encourage you not to.  Wherever you fall, I’ll support your decision.
I hope a few of you watched this.  I’m curious as to your thoughts on this.  Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you thought.

Before I go, I thought I’d dump some random thoughts about this episode here.

– There was a jaunty little montage in which Rosemary got her iconic haircut, only to have the scene end in blood.  I laughed.

Pictured: humor
Pictured: humor

– While pulling organs out of a turkey, Rosemary finds herself suddenly very hungry for the heart, so she frantically begins eating, only to be disgusted with what she’s doing and throw it down.  Saldana played that scene perfectly.  The disgust was palpable.

– While digging through the Castavets’ apartment, Rosemary came across something that could pretty much be described as “Exposition Dump: The Book”.  For a four-hour miniseries, they certainly needed a lot of things to speed up the plot.

– Rosemary needed to find more information about Satanism and witchcraft.  So, naturally, she did an image search for “satan witches”.  That killed me.  “Surely this will tell me everything I need to know.”

– Fontaine’s death was a truly bizarre scene involving French dance pop, a sweating inspector driving wildly, and Jason Isaacs smoking a cigar.  Seemed like it was played for laughs, but it was not a funny scene.  Well, I don’t think it was supposed to be a funny scene.  I laughed at the preposterousness of it all.

– Saldana’s post-labor freak-out was terrific.

– I was hoping for a different ending than the movie, where Saldana would kill everyone in the room, then go on a Columbiana-esque rampage, destroying any coven she comes across.

Rosemary with knife

Rosemary’s Baby: Part 1

Rosemarys Baby - Poster

Before I get started, I think it’s important to get a couple things out of the way.  I don’t really care for Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby.  I can appreciate it for what it did for the genre, but I never found it particularly scary or interesting.  I love the atmosphere, but, in the end, it was really just a movie about a young couple trying to make it in the big city.  I guess that’s where the horror comes from – that this kind of thing could happen to anyone – but it never particularly grabbed me.  I didn’t see it until later in my life, and I often wonder if I would feel differently about it had I seen it when I was younger.  As it stands, it looks good and has some great performances, but I’m not a big fan of it.  (You could pretty much copy-and-paste this for my thoughts on The Exorcist, but that’s neither here nor there.)

I think it’s also important to note my feelings on horror remakes, as I know that’s a touchy topic among horror fans, especially with a movie as loved and respected as Rosemary’s Baby.  Personally, the idea of remakes don’t bother me.  I’m perfectly okay with remaking a movie if there’s a good concept and vision behind it.  Take the original and make it your own.  Are there bad remakes, seemingly made only for cash grabs?  Absolutely.  But there have also been a number of remakes that were made with the right spirit, and some great movies have come out of it.  We can’t treat every classic movie like a sacred text.  Regardless of how I feel about the original, I try to go into every remake with an open mind, and that attitude has served me well in this new age of gods and monsters.  I love the original Evil Dead, and it would have been easy to completely write-off the remake before walking into the theater, but then I would have missed out on all of the bloody fun the remake provided.  A good movie is a good movie, regardless of how I feel about the source material.

With all of that in mind, let’s talk about NBC’s Rosemary’s Baby miniseries.

I love that the miniseries takes place in Paris, and that it has been made clear that Rosemary has given up her role of chief breadwinner in the house so that her husband can fulfill his dream of being a writer (while working as an English professor at a prestigious university).  On top of being a stranger in a strange place, it also puts Rosemary in an unfamiliar role in her own house.  At first, it’s hard for her to tell whether her paranoia is real or just a result of having too much time on her hands.  So far, this has been the best part of the miniseries.  Zoe Saldana plays paranoia and creeping dread perfectly, and it’s all completely believable.  She’s out of her element in more ways than one, and she can’t even fully trust herself.  What if it’s all in her mind?   But what if it isn’t?  After all, paranoia is only paranoia if there’s no one after you.

Everything is bigger in this version.  More blood.  More violence.  You want to see a pregnant woman do a belly-first swan dive off a balcony?  You got it.  You want to see a man wake up in the middle of an abdominal operation and die because a witch said unholy prayers to an upside-down cross?  You got that, too.  Bloody flies and dead priests?  Check and check.
There’s no subtlety here.  No subtext.  Everything is out in the open.  Though Saldana can convey emotions with nothing but the panic on her face, everything is vocalized.  Every meaningful item is pointed out.  Rosemary is given a necklace, and we get roughly a dozen shots zooming in on the necklace afterwards (as well as some focused shots before she gets the necklace, so we’re all 100% sure we know where it came from).  An evil gentleman with an evil cane lurks in the background, only to have the camera focus on him.  Nothing is fleeting.  If it’s somewhat important, it is impossible to miss.  Someone even uttered the line, “That building is cursed.”  This is cursed.  That’s cursed.  They make sure to tell us.

In this miniseries, Guy (Rosemary’s husband) isn’t an aspiring actor: he’s an aspiring author, currently suffering from some terrible writer’s block.  He and Rosemary are on the same page with regards to their wealthy new neighbors, the Castavets (a middle-aged swinging couple instead of the elderly couple in the original): “they’re kind of pretentious and weird, we take nothing from them, we live on our own, blah blah blah.”  Within minutes he has completely gone back on that.  He is now Roman Castavet’s BFF, and it was made extremely clear that a Faustian bargain had been struck, whether Guy was conscious of it or not.
This is where some of my major complaints come in.  The original film was 136 minutes.  This miniseries will be roughly 168 minutes.  They have a little more time to let characters evolve naturally, and yet that aspect of it still feels rushed.  They do nothing with the extra time they have been afforded.  There’s a lot of filler.  Why not use the extra time and make it work for you?  Instead of trying to tell a full, coherent story, it just feels like they’re killing time for a couple big scenes.

However, there were a handful of great moments to go along with the confusing ones.  There was a great jump scare involving a mute handyman.  I loved the interview scene (made me feel a little better about my own interview skills).
Of course, there was also a strange orgy with Steven Marcato (Devil Cane Anagram Man) that made Rosemary want to have a baby right here this very second in the filthy hallway why are we still wearing clothes when there are babies to be made.

It’s kind of a strange miniseries that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be.  Does it want the slow burn of the original, or does it want a more gory modern take?  It’s a question they clearly didn’t answer before filming this.

Part 1 was not terrible, but it also wasn’t very good.  I’m looking forward to watching Part 2 tonight, if only to watch Zoe Saldana eat a human heart.