So tonight BAM is showing Single White Female to close out their Barbet Schroeder series, an event which, in right-thinking people, should inspire two (2) thoughts: first, “Wow is this movie ridiculously awesome and features Death by Stiletto Heel,” and second “So… this is basically a remake of Rosemary’s Baby, right?”
“What Roman Polanski did for the Dakota in Rosemary’s Baby, Mr. Schroeder attempts to do for the Ansonia, the old great Beaux-Arts pile at the corner of Broadway and 73d Street on the Upper West Side,” wrote Vincent Canby, in the above-linked Times review at the time of the film’s release. Indeed, both jagged, elaborate, shadowy buildings are suitably Gothic settings for prolonged home-invasion scenarios (except that no one will believe that the invasion is really happening, because she lives here too/the home that’s being invaded is in fact the womb), scenarios which play out in part through suggestive murmurings heard through thin walls or grates, and tension-filled setpieces in grate elevators and caged basement laundry facilities.
And the tension is, in general, in the service of a fearjerking female panic set-up (sisterly love or peas-in-a-pod bond turned too close; an invasion of the womb and a stay-at-home mom’s betrayal by her working husband), taken in a shamelessly creep-out, coldly funny, classily appointed direction by a sangfroid-y European director with a strange sense of humor.
Plus, you know, there’s the pixie cuts.
If you don’t believe me, go tonight, and then go to Film Forum any time between Halloween and the following Thursday, when they revive Rosemary’s. (Inside dope, and speaking of both the Rosemary’s revival and frightening movies about women trapped in apartments: in Film Forum’s initial fall programming announcement the weeklong revival run beginning on Halloween was to be Jeanne Dielman, though its horror film calendar placement was such a dry joke that they pushed it back to next January.)