For the Coven

That Rosemary’s Baby feels so genuine and grounded is where the fear comes from. As written, there’s equal possibility Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is undergoing a grueling pregnancy, and her beliefs that a witch’s coven is controlling her fate is paranoia-driven lunacy. Or, she’s right. The pieces do fit.

Invited in by her quirky, elderly neighbors the Castevet’s, Rosemary is asked by the husband Roman (Sidney Blackmer) whether she believes in God. She notes failing faith as she grew older, uncertain what to believe. Released in 1968, Rosemary’s Baby stepped into a culture in growing disarray, invisibly preying on the chaos in the Civil Rights movement, a growing presence in Vietnam, and the pressures of young couples trying to establish themselves in a major city. Then, a pregnancy, an ugly one.

Rosemary’s Baby stepped into a culture in growing disarray

Rosemary suffers from delusional dreams, surreal, bizarre images that make little sense, yet represent her inner thoughts. In one, she’s rejected from a ceremony because it’s for “Catholics only,” the dream visualizing how she feels like an outcast, even among those who appear to care for her.

Horror films are no longer made this way. Rosemary’s Baby isn’t rife with shocks. The only special effect is a withering Rosemary early in her pregnancy, and that’s little more than chalky makeup. Her baby goes unseen on camera. The fear becomes an organic “thing,” this mystery that consumes a young woman who has yet to assure anyone – herself included – that all is well.

Using a pregnancy provides an emotive counter. Rosemary’s Baby draws on motherly instinct too, the expectant mother apologizing to her unborn for whatever fate may find for her child; that’s all she can do. On a specialized diet provided by both neighbors and a revered doctor, it’s the likeliest piece in Rosemary’s theory. Using this method, and challenging a younger, uncertain generation, pushes viewers to believe this is all genuine.

Not even Rosemary’s husband is trustworthy, a struggling actor who seemingly by chance is offered incredible roles, but at the misfortune of others. That selfish worldview flawlessly bounces off the guilt shared by a generation facing war and social upheaval, that any success happens only while the nation struggles. Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t hide Satan’s presence from the viewer. Rather, it reveals the demonic force gradually through people’s behavior, manipulated by an unseen force, or maybe it’s all paranoia. The doubt is masterfully directed.


Not one to flush the screen with sharpness and detail, Rosemary’s Baby remains on the softer, less precise side, enough to make this a negligible upgrade over the Blu-ray in this department. Texture shows, certainly, and the natural film grain resolves flawlessly.

Dolby Vision takes a more organic path. Color lacks zip, but also remains neutral and natural. Primaries hold an absolute reality, satisfying, pure, and a little dry. Black levels nicely resolve, dropping to solid (enough, anyway) tones. A tepid boost to light sources adds a minor pop but it’s respectful. Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t look terrible, not even close. Rather, it’s a plain source, rendered accurately.


TrueHD mono suffices, any dated fidelity normal. Dialog resolves perfectly, better than expected given the age. The minimal score reaches a stable crescendo.


On the Blu-ray, a retrospective, a look into Roman Polanski and Mia Farrow, then trailers.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Rosemary's Baby
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A masterful slow burn, Rosemary’s Baby builds flawless suspense and growing horror in a way modern genre films refuse to.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:

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