×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Omen

Remaking the original with only modest updates and augmentation, "The Omen" poses an intriguing question: Will a movie that scared the bejezus out of moviegoers 30 years ago pack the necessary wallop and carnage to satisfy fans of blood-soaked modern horror?

With:
Katherine Thorn - Julia Stiles Robert Thorn - Liev Schreiber Mrs. Baylock - Mia Farrow Keith Jennings - David Thewlis Father Brennan - Pete Postlethwaite Bugenhagen - Michael Gambon Damien - Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick

Remaking the original with only modest updates and augmentation, “The Omen” poses an intriguing question: Will a movie that scared the bejeezus out of moviegoers 30 years ago pack the necessary wallop and carnage to satisfy fans of blood-soaked modern horror? The answer is a qualified yes, if only because the premise of the Devil’s child loosed upon the Earth remains so inherently spooky, feeding the modern fascination with conspiracies and apocalyptic threats. Cleverly unleashing the film on 6/6/06 (a Tuesday? Why not), Fox should attract those yet-to-be born for the earlier version, while fostering curiosity among those who were.

David Seltzer, who authored the 1976 movie, receives script credit, as well he should given the mostly cosmetic (and in some ways beneficial) changes — including fleeting references to recent events, such as the 2004 tsunami and even Sept. 11, as signs of Armageddon.

The other major switch, less successful, involves going considerably younger with the leads, casting Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles (wasn’t she doing teen roles, like, two years ago?) as the couple that unwittingly becomes guardians of the Anti-Christ, played by cherub-faced newcomer Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick.

Pic labors a bit to explain how Robert Thorn (Schreiber), godson of the president, becomes the youngest-ever ambassador to England. From then on, though, director John Moore delivers what’s close to a shot-for-shot remake, with some savvy casting of supporting roles, including Mia Farrow (in an homage to “Rosemary’s Baby”) as Damien’s satanic governess.

Once again, Thorn agrees to take in an orphaned baby as a replacement for his own stillborn child. As the tyke grows, however, clues that something is different about him drip out slowly if not particularly subtly, and it’s mother Katherine (Stiles) who gradually recognizes them — animals acting up at the zoo, a nanny committing suicide, the kid throwing a hissy fit at the prospect of going into a church.

Eventually, Robert must also grapple with the truth, albeit after prodding by a mysterious priest (Pete Postlethwaite) who warns of an end-of-the-world scenario, and help from a photographer (David Thewlis) who begins to put the pieces together.

Moore (whose last film was another remake, “Flight of the Phoenix”) has a reputation for visual flair, which he introduces through eerie dream sequences, but in the main, he adheres closely to Seltzer and director Richard Donner’s template, from the prevailing sense of dread to the atmosphere of general gloom, interrupted by well spaced and effective bursts of gore.

That said, pic is deficient on a few levels. Shot principally in Prague theoretically to keep costs down, the production in places betrays a low-budget look. Also, the final act lacks the pacing, punch and suspense of the original — or maybe they just don’t breed Rottweilers like they used so. And while Marco Beltrami has delivered an evocative score, a snippet of the late Jerry Goldsmith’s masterpiece “Ave Satani” over the closing credits stirs a hunger for more.

Despite seeming too young, Stiles and Schreiber go through the paces gamely enough, with Schreiber — if lacking the gravitas Gregory Peck brought to the proceedings — still left wrestling with the daunting chore of thwarting biblical prophecy through the ritual murder of a little boy.

Of course, the first “Omen” spawned a pair of highly forgettable sequels, raising questions as to where a revived franchise might go. Then again, if Fox execs must confront the high-class problem of deciding what do for an encore, rest assured that it will be the audience, not the Devil, that makes them do it.

The Omen

Production: A 20th Century Fox release. Produced by Glenn Williamson, John Moore. Executive producer, Jeffrey Stott. Directed by John Moore. Screenplay, David Seltzer.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Jonathan Sela; editor, Dan Zimmerman; music, Marco Beltrami; production designer, Patrick Lumb; art directors, Martin Kurel, Katerina Kopicova; set decorator, Patrick "Paki" Smith; costume designer, George L. Little; sound (Dolby-DTS-SDDS), Ian Voigt; supervising sound editor, Jay Wilkinson; visual effects supervisor, Matt Johnson; special effects supervisors, Martin Oberlander, Ian Wingrove; associate producer, Peter Veverka; assistant director, Julian Wall; second unit director, Vlado Struhar; stunt coordinator, Pavel Cajzl; casting, Susie Figgis. Reviewed at Aidikoff screening room, Beverly Hills, May 25, 2006. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 109 MIN.

With: Katherine Thorn - Julia Stiles Robert Thorn - Liev Schreiber Mrs. Baylock - Mia Farrow Keith Jennings - David Thewlis Father Brennan - Pete Postlethwaite Bugenhagen - Michael Gambon Damien - Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick

More Film

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

  • Roman Polanski extradition

    Academy Responds to Roman Polanski: 'Procedures Were Fair and Reasonable'

    UPDATE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to a lawsuit from director Roman Polanski that claimed he was unfairly expelled from the organization behind the Oscars. “The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate,” a spokesperson said. The Academy’s statement [...]

  • Lorraine Warren dead

    Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired 'The Conjuring,' Dies at 92

    Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigator and demonologist whose life inspired franchises like “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror,” has died. She was 92. Warren’s son-in-law Tony Spera confirmed the news. Spera said on Facebook, “She died peacefully in her sleep at home.” He continued, “She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul. To quote Will [...]

  • THE EXORCIST

    'Exorcist' Star Max Von Sydow Doesn't Let Age Define His Roles

    Max von Sydow turned 90 this month, which is a milestone for most people, but age has always seemed incidental to the actor. When he played the elderly, frail Father Merrin in “The Exorcist,” von Sydow was 44 — meaning he was the same age Bradley Cooper is today. In the 1950s, von Sydow had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content