rosemary's baby in front of american horror strory episode 5
WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for American Horror Stories Season 1, Episode 5, "BA'AL," now streaming on Hulu.
The American Horror Story
franchise has referenced and reworked classic horror tropes for the past decade in many ways, and this includes direct references to past scary films, books, shows and more. For instance, American Horror Story: 1984
tells its own Friday the 13th
inspired season while American Horror Story: Murder House
hommages Rosemary's Baby
and The Omen
. American Horror Stories
, the spin-off anthology series, continues this trend, as Episode 3, "Drive-In," connected its villain to The Exorcist
, and now, Episode 5, "BA'AL,"
reimagines Rosemary's Baby
in multiple ways.
Along with the antagonist of the episode, Matt (Ronen Rubinstein), being similar to Rosemary's husband -- Guy, Liv (Billie Lourd) remixes Rosemary and her relationship with the supernatural. For instance, Guy strikes a deal with their elderly neighbors to allow Satan to rape Rosemary and impregnate her in exchange for fame and success. Rosemary is unaware of this paranormal deal and wants nothing to do with the occult throughout Rosemary's Baby; however, Liv actively pursues the supernatural.
It appears Liv and Matt struggle to conceive; although, this is because Matt's been sabotaging their attempts to get pregnant. This was so Liv would be at the end of her rope, so when their doctor's secretary offered her an occult totem that's supposed to honor a fertility deity, she'd take it. Liv accepts this figure -- which later is revealed to be fake -- and puts it under her bed, hoping this would finally lead to successful conception the next time they had sex.
The two then go through their own nightmares, where their husbands gaslight them to the point of mentally breaking them. For the most part, how Rosemary and Liv react to this is similar, as they know something is not right but cannot find anyone to help. However, where Rosemary searches for assistance beyond the supernatural, hoping to distance herself from that world, Liv dives deeper into the occult, returning to the secretary and accepting a banishing ritual from her.
This ritual is also fake, as is everything supernatural that's happened to Liv so far, thanks to Matt and his friends staging this in hopes of exploiting her trauma for fame. It also sets Liv up to stab Matt, so she is institutionalized. Meanwhile, Rosemary is the victim of real supernatural events, and instead of being sent to a mental institute or prison, she becomes the prisoner of her own home.
After the birth of Rosemary's baby, the coven behind all of this take him as their own, but they still need Rosemary to play the role of mother. While this is not the life Rosemary wanted for herself and her child, she also doesn't want to abandon her baby to these people and her abusive husband. With no other options present for Rosemary and her baby, she is forced into being a part of this new life, stripping her of her freedom and condemning her to more manipulation and torment at the hands of these people.
Where the occult harms and condemns Rosemary, Liv finds liberation in it. While imprisoned, she performs the banishing ritual once more, and while the secretary thought it was fake, she was partially wrong. Yes, it wasn't a banishing ritual, but it is a real summoning ritual, thus giving Liv control over a powerful demon.
American Horror Stories - Episode 5 Billie Lourd's Liv
Rosemary could not exact revenge on her abusers, but Liv and her demon do, with the demon going after Matt and his friends. He kills everyone aside from Matt, who comes clean about what he did to Liv, thus freeing her from her imprisonment. The murders are also pinned on him, as Liv is now in the position to deny his experience.
Taking this even further, Liv doesn't just use the occult to save herself and baby; she fully embraces it. Unlike Rosemary, who has no say over what Satan does, Liv has full control over her demon thanks to the ritual, and even after he takes care of Matt and his friends, Liv is not done with him. She promises to set him free if he gives her another baby.
Both Rosemary and Liv are the victims of abusive husbands who in someway use the supernatural to torment them. This also leads to the conception of their children, with the husbands having a blatant disregard for their wives' safety. Despite these similarities, Liv twists Rosemary's relationship with the occult, embracing it fully, exacting revenge on her abusers and consensually sleeping with a demon in hopes of her second child.
This is not the first time American Horror Stories or AHS has reworked classic cinema, and this likely won't be the last, with new episodes of the former airing on Hulu Thursdays and the latter premiering its tenth season -- Double Feature -- August 25, 2021 on FX.