Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Rosemary's Baby 2014

Rosemary's Baby ~ My first thought when I had heard they were remaking Rosemary's Baby was why. It's almost a perfect film as it is, perhaps a bit dated now, but for its time, it was fabulous and changed the way we viewed horror. One could say that the original film, based on the Ira Levin novel, even created its own little subgenres of horror. It opened the door to several devil-related flicks, family-centric horror, and modern takes on old scare themes. The Stepford Wives, The Omen, even The Exorcist, they all owe a debt to Rosemary's Baby.

There are of course reasons to remake a movie, even one that was done right the first time. One reason would be to expand the original story, fill in details, complete connections, explain what was left unexplained. Another reason would be to update the film, as in a lot has changed since 1968 and now it's 2014. That means update the style of the filmmaking and storytelling, not just adding cellphones, the internet, and social media.

There is always the possibility that one has found a way to improve the original, to make it better, however in this case I doubt it. Some folks just want to do a remake as is, reproducing sets or shots, but with new actors or as above updated settings. Or it could simply be a bit of stunt casting, which does fit this case with Zoe Saldana in the Mia Farrow role.

I think the main reason I didn't want to see Rosemary's Baby remade was that it seems to be recent memory, and then I remember it's a relic of my childhood, and lastly as my mind shrivels a bit more I realize the original was made almost five decades ago. Damn, I feel old. It was a long time ago, and I even remember the ill-advised ABC Movie of the Week sequel Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby. Now that was a disaster, but at least it was a fun disaster. I don't think I can even call this remake fun.

Let's talk about the stunt casting of Zoe Saldana. Zoe is Uhura, she's Columbiana, she's Gamora. And it's not a matter of typecasting either she's better in those kinds of roles. This is not to say the woman doesn't have range, but she just doesn't pull it off here. I don't believe her for a second as naive, innocent, and demure Rosemary Woodhouse. There's a hint of the Zoe we all know and love in the beginning of the miniseries but she never surfaces again.

The other major change that director Agnieszka Holland made was the location move to Paris. This is disappointing as New York is very much a character in the original film. Holland is well known for a completely different kind of movie, the kind that would normally occur in France, but let's face it, this is Rosemary's Baby, and it's a miniseries for prime time American network television. What the hell were they thinking at NBC?

This new version of course add new details, as they do have double the time to fill being a four hour miniseries 'event' as opposed to just a two hour movie. That also means it drags everything out. Waiting and extended talky scenes do not a suspenseful story make. I love Zoe but she exudes as much (or as little) charisma here as the rest of her co-stars. The score by Antoni Lazarkiewicz is relentlessly uninteresting and pales in comparison with the stunning soundtrack of the original by Krzysztof Komeda.

This had the potential to be a refreshing and original take on the story but it fails both due to length and casting, and yes, even location. While the original presented tense subtle creeping horror, this version is boring, underwhelming, and overly and unnecessarily complex - and ultimately disappointing. Give this a pass. Read the book, see the original, hell, see the sequel, but give this 2014 remake a wide berth.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, once I heard the setting was going to be moved from NY to Paris I knew it was gonna stink like a party guest who doesn't know when the party's over. In the original The Dakota (the gothic apartment building inhabited by Satanists) was just as much a character in the movie as anybody else.

    I've got the new ROSEMARY'S BABY on DVR and will probably watch it out of curiosity more than anything else.