Quantcast THE OMEN (2006) review

FIRST LOOK: THE OMEN (May. 06) by Robg.

“The signs are all around you. On the 6 th day of the 6 th month of the 6 th year, his day will come…”

And so begins John Moore’s version of ‘THE OMEN’, a remake based on the classic horror flick of the same name from 1976. Granted, this new movie is an update/remake/redux, but I’m going to ignore that fact until the very end of this write-up and try to review this film on its own merits.

The story center’s around Robert Thorn, a senior American diplomat and his young, beautiful wife Katherine, whom we’re told at the beginning delivers a still born child. Desperate to save his wife from the grief of their loss, Father Spiletto convinces Robert to take the recently orphaned Damien and raise him as their own child.

All is well until Damien’s 5 th birthday when a series of terrible incidents occur in Damien’s presence, beginning with the suicide of the family nanny during Damien’s birthday celebration. Slowly but surely Katherine starts to suspect that something is terribly wrong with their child Damien, and that perhaps he’s not their real son. Father Brennan tries to warn Robert that his son is in fact the anti-Christ and there is little time to save us all from the impending apocalypse.

The opening of the film is strong and sets the tone right away. I really liked the subtle effect with the cast credits. You’ll notice certain letter’s such as “T’s” morphing into upside down crosses or other letters changing into 6’s while a beautiful score by Marco Beltrami accompanies these opening images. Then, we see a meeting at the Vatican to discuss the recent “signs” occurring all over the world. Revelations that are compared to recent events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina and it’s clear that something is amiss. From then on, I was hooked. I genuinely had a chill run up my back when seeing these recent catastrophes shown as the early signs of the inevitable Armageddon.

It is then 5 years later and we are brought up to speed with Robert Thorn (now the US ambassador to Great Britain) and his family (now residing in London). Once the horrific birthday party sequence plays out towards the end of the first act, the remainder of the movie just keeps heading toward grimmer and darker territory and doesn’t let up. Robert gets another warning from Father Brennan, which convinces him that his claims merit some investigation. He teams up with photographer Jennings, whose recent photographs may hold some clues as to what’s going on.

Now, here’s what I loved about this movie. The cast absolutely rocked. When I heard that Liev Schreiber, Julie Stiles and Mia Farrow were cast as Robert, Katherine and Mrs. Baylock respectively, I was fairly confident that I could look forward to some solid performances all around. They all exceeded my expectations. I’ve always thought Liev was a great actor, but he really shines thru-out the duration of this movie, especially during the tense & difficult second half.

And just when you’re wondering who’s going to look after this little anti-Christ to be? In walks Mia Farrow. Naturally. She plays it with enough equal parts comfort and sinister glee, that I’m sure she’s going to be the stand out in this flick. Little Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick plays Damien, and has such an ominous presence. He speaks maybe 2 or 3 lines through out the film, but is able to deliver a genuinely creepy performance thru mostly looks.

Also, note worthy is David Thewis, who completely channels David Werner’s Jennings, yet somehow makes it his own. (I know! I Know! I swear I’ll get to the original in a bit!) Oh, look for a cameo by original Damien actor Harvey Stevens as a reporter. (*Thanks to Tony Timpone for pointing that one out!)

What else? It’s scary! Yes. We’ve finally gotten a remake that isn’t PG-13, that hasn’t been dumbed down, or even changed drastically from its original source material. Sure, this version of THE OMEN had its fair share of trademark horror “jump” scares, but there is at least one good scare that will make you jump out of your seat, even if you’ve seen the original version and think you remember where every bit comes in. And speaking of, the kills were all fantastic. I was nervous that having seen the original, they wouldn’t be as effective, but they were pulled off with such finesse. All of them happen so suddenly and shockingly, that audiences are bound to talk about it directly after screenings. In fact, I’ll be bold enough to say that one of the kills (my fave from the original) was out done in this new one. I love how some of the gag’s were set up almost in that ‘Final Destination way’? …Where you’d literally get a 2 second head start to realize how dangerous the surrounding area a person is standing in is before the inevitable death actually happens. I loved that!

There are a few violent and horrific things that happen in the presence of children in this movie, which I haven’t seen in quite a long time, and quite frankly, I’m a big fan of that. Nothing’s scarier (or funnier to sicko’s like me) then when a demon kid stirs up a bunch of wild & dangerous animals in the zoo to go berserk and scare the shit out a bunch of 5 year olds. Great stuff.

And overall, the pacing, effects, and execution of the story were all tightly balanced. And I know I briefly mentioned it before, but I personally loved Marco Beltrami’s score; a lot of which I found stood out and was memorable, and definitely enhanced the mood and atmosphere of certain scenes.

So, how does it hold up to the original? Well, this is actually a very interesting debate. On its own, it’s a really scary, well made solid horror movie. Quite frankly, one of the better remakes, or horror movies in general that I’ve seen in quite some time. They did NOT shy away (AT ALL) from some of the darker material, and stayed very, very faithful to all aspects of the original.

The only downside I can see (and again, this is debatable) is that the new ‘OMEN’ is really very close to the original. It was different enough, and added some really interesting ideas to the mix, but it wasn’t like the way that films like ‘The Fly’ or ‘The Thing’ were “re-imagined”. I feel like it’s what ‘Psycho 1998’ SHOULD have been had they cast it properly and updated more then just the money denominations. But… you have to figure that a lot of the current movie going public hasn’t seen the original, in which case they’ll love this. Most of you will find it different, original and scary.

Part of me is sad that a lot of people going to see this haven’t seen the original OMEN, but at the same time, maybe enough people will see THIS version and seek out the original, and its’ sequels. Overall, with the whole slew of remakes coming out these days, this is definitely one to put on top as one of the best. Go see this! - Robg.

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