Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby (2014)
Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Cast: Zoe Saldana, Patrick J. Adams, Carole Bouquet, Jason Isaac
Extras: Featurettes

A new two-episode made-for-TV movie has recently picked up Ira Levin’s brooding psychological horror thriller “Rosemary’s Baby” and repackaged it with a new cast and a new script. Now that Lionsgate has released the Blu-Ray version of the film, I was eager to take a look at it.

Guy (Patrick J. Adams) and Rosemary (Zoe Saldana) Woodhouse are a young couple with great plans for their future. When Guy is offered a teaching position at the Sorbonne University in Paris they both see it as a great chance to change their surroundings and embrace the world.

Upon settling in Paris, they move into a fabulous apartment in La Chimere, a historic building, that is made available to them through the help of their new-found friends Margaux (Carole Bouquet) and Roman (Jason Isaac) Castavet, who have take a shine to the young couple and use their substantial influence to further Guy’s career in particular.

But despite the good luck that seems to follow them every step of the way, Rosemary feels as the Castavets are smothering them, constantly interfering with their lives and when Rosemary becomes pregnant, things seem to get even worse. Conceived during a night that Rosemary can only remember as fragments of an unsettling dream, she becomes the sole attention of the Castavets, who seem to orchestrate everything she does, eats, or whom she talks to. She begins to worry and fear that something is not right, and as her fears grow, Guy pulls away from her more and more, showing her a side of him she did not know existed.

Is Rosemary simply psychotic, or is everyone really watching her? Is the house truly evil and its inhabitants a Satan-worshipping witch’s coven out to get her unborn baby?

Ira Levin’s novel on which this show is based is a masterpiece of psychological horror. It steadily builds atmosphere and becomes increasingly unsettling as you turn the pages. Naturally, it is hard to capture the same kind of suspense when translating the material to a film, but Roman Polanski did so incredibly eloquently in 1968. The first question this remake begs, therefore, is does it manage to live up to Polanski’s film and perhaps even eclipse it? Sadly the answer is, no.

While not all bad, “Rosemary’s Baby” suffers from its length. Running for almost three hours, the film manages to create creepy moments and a brooding sense of foreboding, but it develops too slowly to keep these moments alive and ticking. All too often the material builds suspense and atmosphere and then slowly fades again, losing its grip on the viewer, as uninteresting and irrelevant scenes stretch out the narrative. If this film had been compressed into a 90-minute or 120-minute format it would have been incredibly powerful, I have no doubt, and could have been an equal to Polanski’s film, but as it stands, it reminds us that it is a TV movie that deliberately plays for time.

The cast in the film is wonderful. Zoe Saldana perfectly captures the fears and psychosis of Rosemary as she gradually looses her grip on the world around her. Carole Bouquet is also incredible as Margaux, exuding both a motherly warmth and a maleficence bubbling just under the surface, playing it to the hilt with only her eyes giving away the real truth. The rest of the cast is also well-rounded with great performances.

Presented as a 1080p high definition transfer in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio, “Rosemary’s Baby” is clean and free of blemishes. However, I did notice a good amount of banding artifacts in the transfer. Since much of the film is playing in dimly lit corridors and interiors, these artifacts were more frequent and more noticeable than I would have liked, really, and the film’s 170 minute running length may have played its part in it, too, as disc storage becomes more of an issue.

Color reproduction is generally strong, however, with good hues and solid saturation, along with deep black levels that give the image plenty of visual depth.

“Rosemary’s Baby” comes with a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track that is dynamic and active, making good use of the surround channels throughout. Whether it’s the bustling streets of Paris or the ominous building of the score and atmospheric effects, the audio is a strong accompaniment to the film that helps build the atmosphere. Dialogues are well integrated and always perfectly understandable.

to accompany the film, the Blu-Ray release also contains a few bonus materials, such as the making-of featurette “Fear is Born.” The featurette takes a closer look at the production with interviews and some behind-the-scenes footage.

Also included is the featurette “Grand Guignol: Parisian Production Design,” which gives you a closer look behind the scenes. I found the title of the featurette somewhat weird because nothing about “Rosemary’s Baby” has anything to do with Grand Guignol, which is a term used for very sensational, hocking and bloodthirsty horror, neither of which applies to the film or the story at all. While there are a few select moments in the film when people die violently, “Rosemary’s Baby” is a far cry from a graphic horror film and manifests itself in your mind instead.

Overall, “Rosemary’s Baby” wasn’t a bad film at all. It is too long and therefore occasionally teetered on the brink of losing my interest, but in the end, I found the film rewarding and entertaining, so make sure to check it out some time.