Directed by: John Moore
Written by: David Seltzer
Produced by: Glenn Williamson and John Moore
Reviewed by: Brett H.
"I never want to see or hear from you again."
"You'll see me in hell, Mr. Thorn. We'll spend eternity together."
"You'll see me in hell, Mr. Thorn. We'll spend eternity together."
The seventies were quite possibly the greatest time to be a fan of satanic cinema. The Omen is the greatest apocalyptic film ever made and is a giant in horror cinema, a film that is as untouchable in its craft as Halloween is to the slasher and Dawn of the Dead is to zombie films. And it goes to show, as all three of these films have been remade in the current crop of retreads Hollywood is shoving down the throats of fans everywhere. Whereas Dawn was well received, the same cannot be said for Zombieween. It took a bit, but Iíve finally gotten to The Omenís retelling and the title screen of the DVD looked very nice. With a click of a button, itíd open the door to the film. But, would the door lead me straight to hell or that heavenly terror bliss I experienced with the original?
Robert Thorn is the U.S. ambassador to Italy and his wife, Kathy (Julia Stiles) is pregnant with the coupleís first child. He gets a call and rushes to the hospital as soon as he gets the news, it turns our sheís gone into labor and the child is to be born at any moment. When he gets to the hospital, he is met by the news that is quite possibly the most tragic statements a man can hear. The child was lost during birth, and his wife has not yet been informed. A priest at the hospital brings an interesting conundrum to the table. A woman at the hospital has recently passed away during her delivery of a baby boy and the woman had no family whatsoever. The priest offers the baby to the man so as for his wife to not be brought down by the situation. It doesnít take much deliberation and Robert and so begins his life withholding the Noble Lie.
Five years later, the child, Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) has grown into a quiet and odd boy. The family relocates to Great Britain when Robert accepts a new political position. At Damienís birthday party, his nanny sees a jackal (on the sixth day of the sixth month) and within minutes, she is up on the roof with a noose. She cries out for all to hear, ďthis is for you, Damien, itís all for youÖĒ before taking the plunge. While at work the next day, Robert is met by Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), who mysteriously knows of his little secret and informs him that he must kill his son. Prophecies have been fulfilled and not only that, Father Brennan was there the night Damien was born. A woman named Maria had not brought little Damien into this world; his mother was in fact a jackal. The fate of existence on earth rests on the shoulders of Robert and his tragic quandary. To be or not to be; that is the question.
Other than the fact that Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles are playing the lead roles, The Omen surprisingly delivers in its modern reinvention. It borrows a lot from the original, so those who have seen it know fully what to expect. At the same time it changes a few small events and presents itself in such a manner that is different enough. The film takes modern events such as 9/11 and the tsunami and uses them as the religious prophecies written of in Revelations, Daniel and others. This combined with the fact that the theatrical release date of ď6/6/06Ē only come along every hundred years probably inspired the producers to get this one out ASAP. It doesnít feel too rushed or anything, quite honestly itís an interesting companion piece to the original. Even though I am not against remakes, I was still left with the feeling that this should just have been a sequel. With modern techniques and great cinematography in general, the film really brings the atmosphere with great thunderstorms and lighting. There are a few quick cut dream sequences that pull off a decent jump scare or two and build tension between Damien and his mother, which is a key part of the film. One mean, mean jump scare in the flick made me yelp a bit, as ashamed as I am to admit.
When the first nanny gets a little tied up, a new nanny is hired and she steals the show for this horror nerd. Rosemaryís Babyís Mia Farrow becomes Damienís biggest protector. It was perfect casting and she really puts on a great performance, especially at the end. Itís an in-reference to the hardcore crowd and little things like that make all the difference. One question is raised, you would think Damienís parents would be a tad concerned that Damien is essentially a mute, but they arenít worried about it until heís five years old. Itís a minor thing, but it deserves to be noted. Damien has that vibe that every kid in horror seemingly has had since New Nightmare, but there is one scene in particular that creeped me out. Kathy is pushing her son on the swing and he is absolutely devoid of emotion, he just stares off into space. It is gloomy outside, which adds to the surreal nature of the scene. Suspense and mystery play a huge role in the film and since it follows the originalís storyline, it shocks the viewer as the movie progresses and thereís great plot twists and ideas (photographs foreshadowing death is a big one) all throughout.
The scene in the film which relates to a graveyard is reminiscent of the old gothic horrors and itís great to see. On his journey for the truth, Robert must find the priest who gave him Damien in the first place and he has been horribly burned in a fire. As creepy as his look is, the strangest thing about the scene is the snow. The snow floats up and down randomly, which adds a strange touch of macabre. Towards the end of the movie you really feel for Robert Thorn and the situation heís in, heís really getting fucked in every hole. Those close to him are dying off and heís slowly beginning to realize that his son is going to destroy the world, which culminates with the ultimate decision. Should he kill Damien or should he expel everything as religious coincidence babble? Itís not exactly an easy situation to be in and things like this make the film effective. The original Omen was known for some outrageous death sequences, and they are featured here. Thereís not too much gore, but there is enough and what is present is pretty effective. One kill in particular had some obvious CGI, but it wasnít terrible to the point of laughter (or anywhere close).
All in all, The Omen will never take the place of the original, but it is a good entry in the Omen universe and to put it bluntly, Iím just happy I got to see Damien on the screen once again. Is the original better in most every way? Yes, but thatís fine and doesnít diminish the effect of this movie one bit. Of all the films that would at least benefit from a new interpretation, itíd be The Omen. The original plot is in tact and itís great to see a new generation become exposed to the franchise. Itís professionally made and the acting is good overall (itís tough to grasp Schreiber in Peckís role, I will admit). Much like the original movie, the original score is damn near untouchable, but the more modern track really works with the film and thereís a lot of pounding. The DVD has a great audio and video presentation and is loaded with featurettes, a commentary and alternate scenes. Both of the violent kills in the film were edited and itís great to see them in their uncut form. One of the edited kills consists of a rod going through the body of a priest and although it is more brutal, it is less artistic, so the editing isnít a big deal. The other alternate kill is definitely better as thereís no such thing as too much gore in a beheading. The Omen is a fun little film that stands tall in the shadow of a true classic and itís great to see hell come to earth once again. Buy it!
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