In 1976 THE OMEN rode a wave of horror films about demonic children — notably ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968) and THE EXORCIST (1973) — to lasting notoriety; 30 years later it dovetails with the postmillennial interest in sinister religious conspiracies and revelations that spawned 1999's THE OMEGA CODE, the LEFT BEHIND films and even THE DA VINCI CODE (2006).
Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) is blessed with wealth; a promising career in the diplomatic corps; a beautiful wife, Katherine (Julia Stiles); world-class political connections — his uncle is the president of the United States — and impending fatherhood. Enter cruel fate: Katherine not only loses the child but suffers internal injuries during labor that preclude future childbearing. As she lies insensible in a Catholic hospital, Robert lets a solicitous priest persuade him to assume custody of an orphaned infant born earlier that day and tell the Katherine the baby is theirs. Robert is promoted and given a plum posting to England soon after little Damien's (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) birth, but his good fortune is precipitated by his superior, Ambassador Haines' (Marshall Cupp), macabre death. Even after the Thorns have settled into a stately home outside London, Katherine can't shake the feeling that something has tainted their lives. She has nightmares and feels ill at ease in her child's presence. Damien's nanny hangs herself in the middle of his fifth birthday party; her replacement, Mrs. Blaylock (Mia Farrow, an inspired piece of casting), masks a frighteningly steely devotion to her charge with a veneer of sweet reasonableness. Ranting Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), who begins hounding Robert with apocalyptic doggerel and insinuations about Damien's heritage, dies in a grotesque accident, and paparazzo Keith Jennings (David Thewlis) shows him photographs of both nanny and priest that seem to predict the manner of their deaths. Could Damien be something more than a foundling? Given that the only reason to remake THE OMEN is to reinvigorate a financially played-out franchise, director John Moore's film is solid and respectful of the source material, to which it hews so closely that the sole screenplay credit belongs to original writer David Seltzer. The Thorns, first played by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, are significantly younger, and there's a new prologue enumerating the signs of the coming apocalypse (footage of real-life disasters including the 2004 Phuket tsunami and the collapse of the World Trade towers may strike some viewers as distasteful), but there are no surprises for anyone who's seen the earlier version, and younger horror fans may find the modest body count and restrained gore unsatisfying.
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- Released: 2006
- Rating: R
- Review: In 1976 THE OMEN rode a wave of horror films about demonic children — notably ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968) and THE EXORCIST (1973) — to lasting notoriety; 30 years later it dovetails with the postmillennial interest in sinister religious conspiracies and revelat… (more)