Premieres Sunday, May 11 at 8pm on NBC.
Remakes are an inevitability in Hollywood and in a time when movies reboots are planned less than a year after a recent film, it's hard to get too worked up about it. Still, there are some works that really never need to be re-made and a classic film like Rosemary's Baby falls squarely into that collection. Thus, NBC's modern re-telling of the 1967 phsychological horror masterpiece has its work cut out for it and fails spectacularly.
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After suffering tragic miscarriage, Rosemary Woodhouse (Zoe Saldana) and her husband Guy (Patrick J. Adams) move across the ocean to Paris, looking for a fresh start. After an encounter with a young Parisian purse snatcher, Rosemary meets wealthy and overly generous couple Margaux and Roman Castevet (Carole Bouquet and Jason Isaacs). A series of seemingly cooincidental disasters draw the Woodhouses and the Castevets closer. When Guy's career suddenly takes off, he wants to try to for a baby again but the difficult pregnancy forces Rosemary to take a closer look at the people around her and question whether or not their motives are driven by darker forces.
The miniseries remake of a classic horror film has been done before. In 1997, Stephen King penned the teleplay for The Shining after having been disappointed by Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of his novel. Rosemary's Baby has nothing like this excuse. Roman Polanski's film was remarkably faithful to Ira Levin's book while James Wong and Scott Abbott's version have made several changes, none of which improve on the original.
Transferring the story from New York to Paris could have been a brilliant move to emphasize Rosemary's isolation when she begins to suspect that those around her are upt to no good, but the series never makes good on this idea and even goes out of its way to show that, apart from a grumpy man on the street and the aforementioned purse-snatcher, most Parisians Rosemary encounters speak very good English and are perfectly pleasant to her. While Isaacs does sinister beautifully, the Castevets morphing from the odd old couple across the hall to a swanky and gorgeous duo does irreperable harm to the tension in their relationship with the Woodhouses.
In just over two hours of running time, Polanski managed to build the tension of Rosemary's discoveries about the Castevets, her husband and the child growing inside of her beautifully. The NBC version plods along through the beats of the story, failing to meaningfully weave them together and spending too much time in all the wrong places. Saldana's Rosemary doesn't even become pregnant until the end of the first two-hour installment. What was once a taught and intense thriller becomes a sleepy and dull affair in which every plot reveal is telegraphed.
While Saldana proved that her talents could permeate pixels in Avatar, she couldn't be more wrong for the role of Rosemary Woodhouse. The delicate naiveté that Mia Farrow brought to the character is completely missing, causing her final descent into helplessness to be totally off the mark. The Rosemary that's presented in the first half of the series is tough and a bit untrusting, while the second installment depicts a woman that is easily taken in by the legitimately suspicious people around her only fights back at the last possible moment.
Lacking any sense of tension or purpose, this Rosemary's Baby remake has more in common with failed copycats like 666 Park Avenue than Polanski award-winning masterpiece.