There's only one reason to remake a horror classic like Rosemary's Baby
: to update it to appeal to a new (and younger) audience. Fans of the original, the story of a woman (Mia Farrow) whose husband (John Cassavetes) rents out her womb to the devil in exchange for career success, aren't likely to find much reason to tune into NBC's miniseries version other than out of sheer curiosity. Millenials, or anyone who refuses to acknowledge any film shot before the 80s, might find some redeeming qualities in this otherwise unimpressive reimagining.
The entire feel of Rosemary's Baby
is chic and sexy, even Satan himself is a hottie-no pun intended. The actual act of procreation is very sensual, unlike the fractured, disorienting and painful intercourse experienced by the devil's baby mama in the earlier version. Even the newborn whose appearance initially horrifies Farrow, could be a Gerber poster baby in this outing.
The story originally takes place in New York, but for the update, the locale is changed to Paris. This neither adds nor takes away from the story. It appears as if the Castevets (Jason Isaacs and Carole Bouquet), witches and agents of the big guy downstairs, had their eyes on Rosemary (Zoe Saldana) for a long time and go through great machinations to get her on their home turf. This is a big departure from the classic. The goal may simply be to put Rosemary in foreign surroundings to make her more vulnerable and more likely to trust complete strangers.
Also, cell phones and lap tops make rare appearances, but Rosemary and Guy (Patrick J. Adams) aren't Luddites. While it's possible the couple have no close family, it's hard to believe that Rosemary doesn't have a larger circle of friends than one ex-pat (Chistina Cole). Rosemary doesn't have a Twitter account or a Facebook page or even Instagram? It's France, not Mars.
Farrow's Rosemary is shown to have a number of friends, but as the Castevets hold over her husband increases, her existence becomes more and more solitary. Now, in the age of cell phones and social media, creating that same mood is far more difficult. Rosemary's initial role as a stay-at-home wife, and later, compounded by her difficult pregnancy, help to recreate this sense of loneliness. Both situations gives her somewhat of an excuse to neither have the cause nor desire to leave her luxury apartment building.
Rosemary may live in self-imposed solitude despite the multitude of options to reach out and touch someone. But, she has not shortage of people who try to warn her that her initially picture perfect life in The City of Lights, is not all it's cracked up to be. Characters were created for strictly this purpose. A great deal of time is wasted on a storyline that gives Rosemary something to do while she's waiting to get knocked up, but then it is quickly abandoned.
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek Into Darkness
) does a respectable, if not admirable turn as Rosemary Woodhouse. She possesses the same physical fragility as Mia Farrow. Patrick J. Adams (Suits
) is far too fresh faced to pull off the insidious character of Guy Woodhouse who, it is safe to say, was initially portrayed as a self-centered, egotistical bully. These traits were only enhanced by the fact that he was an actor whereas Adams' incarnation is an academic and a writer.
Roman Castevets and his wife Margaux are, in terms of appearance, roughly 20 years younger and far more attractive than their counterparts of the original. While the Castevets (played by the incomparable Ruth Gordon as Minnie and Sidney Blackmer) in Polanski's film are unabashedly intrusive, this couple, while just as manipulative and diabolical, are more subtle. For some unknown reason, Margaux also appears to be, if not bisexual, drawn to Rosemary in a way that is very intimate in nature.
Adams' interpretation of Guy is emotionally and morally all over the map. He shows remorse for his betrayal of Rosemary, and at times vocalizes his loathing for the Castavetes, but he continues to act in their best interests. He does this not so much out of fear of physical threats hinted at by Roman, but more because he returns the fear of his writer's block. Because Adams has an inherent charm and affable demeanor that make him practically impossible to dislike, the film's creators try to force the issue making him a wannabe philanderer as well.
There's a lot of pandering to the masses because this version is rife with unnecessary gore not even relevant to the story. It's hard to shock today's cynical audiences with the likes of True Blood
and American Horror Story
desensitizing viewers with graphic sexual and violent images every episode. But what the original Rosemary's Baby
demonstrates is that sometimes less can be more.
Get a sneak peek and go behind the scenes with the cast of NBC's Rosemary's Baby
airs Sunday, May 11 and Thursday, May 15 from 9-11pm EST.
(Image and video courtesy of NBC)