The Omen (2006)

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Review #145 of 365
Film: The Omen (2006) [R] 105 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $10.50
Where Viewed: AMC Loews Meridian 16, Seattle, WA
When 1st Seen: 6 June 2006
Time: 9:06 p.m.

Marco Beltrami - The Omen (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word review of this film]
This is a tough review for me to write because I have written extensively regarding my feelings on remakes, and unfortunately, because I have not seen the original, I cannot apply my tests to see if this remake should have been attempted nor how it stacks up to the original. In 1976, when the original came out, I was not allowed to go see such scary movies. Truth be told, I am not sure I really wanted to see The Omen anyway. There is something freaky and creepy about seeing these demonic films as if watching them legitimizes their topic. I think I actually believed that if I saw these types of movies they might come true—yeah, I control the universe, didn't you know? Therefore, I apologize to those who have seen both and prefer the original. Unfortunately, I will have to confine my remarks to just the 2006-version.

For the first time in my memory, clever marketers opted to release the remake of The Omen on June 6, 2006 (a Tuesday) with show times on the hour + 6 minutes in many theatres. This may indeed have an interesting impact on film releases in general as more and more companies are realizing the value of opening earlier in a week (the Superman Returns release date was just moved up two days from Friday to Wednesday) to capture more days of ticket sales as the newness of the previous Friday-released movies starts to wear off mid-week. Given that many showings at theatres across the country were sold out, signs are that the move paid off. Whether there will be staying power for the film through the next weekend, however, will remain to be seen. Certainly there is something creepy and mysterious in seeing this film on 6 June 2006 that won't apply to 7 June or 8 June. Once you missed the original date, will seeing it still count? All superstitions aside, hopefully the most compelling factor for repeat and continued business will be reviews and word-of-mouth advertising. Will the film get respect or be labeled a shoddy knock off?

Well, certainly, it was not a 'shoddy' knock off. This time around Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles (odd choices in casting if you ask me) portray Robert and Katherine Thorn, the parents of Damien (played as a 5-year old by incredibly cute bad boy Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick), David Thewlis shows up as the photojournalist that helps put the pieces of the puzzle surrounding Damien's past together for Robert, and Mia Farrow scares up the role of Mrs. Baylock, Damien's ever-protective, glassy-eyed nanny from hell. The story begins in Italy, where Robert is a high-ranking official in the US Embassy. He is told that his child has died during labor and that, for a small price in personal honesty and ethics, he can accept a child born at the same time whose mother died at the same moment as his child as a substitute for the original without his traumatized wife every being the wiser. Robert accepts the proposition. He and Katherine raise the child successfully, though with some strange occurrences such as a nanny jumping off the roof to her death during his 5th birthday party which prompts a visit by a morphine-addicted priest with some crazy ideas about Damien being the son of the devil and causing the death of everyone around him. Robert, obviously as any good parent would, ignores his heeding. But, Damien is not like any other child, and things start to happen which just aren't very good. Attributing them to Damien is only one step in the process that was not undertaken until too late. Probably the biggest irritant in the film is the ending which prominently suggests a sequel. So, are we in for Omens 2-4 just like last time? I feel it would have been clever to pick up the pace a bit the second time around, and maybe eliminate the need for a IV.

"As far as recent horror thrillers go, this is certainly one of the better ones…it serves to scare intelligently and resonates well with the current political landscape."
There is no denying the story is scary, very scary. There are a few times when the pace was a bit slow and the action was mundane. There was also a modest predictability to the film in general that decreased enjoyment. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is perfect as the nearly dialogue-less Damien who communicates telepathically with his subjects. Mia Farrow, again, gives a spine-tingling performance as Mrs. Blaylock. Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber seem a mismatched couple from the start with hardly any chemistry. She is also too cold and detached from the child from the day of his birth. Meanwhile, Mr. Schreiber has the physical attributes to play the role, but he lacks empathy in his eyes that would have helped make it seem like his ultimate task—the need to kill 'his' child--was more horrifying for him than it did. As far as recent horror thrillers go, this is certainly one of the better ones. It utilizes a whole host of scare tactics rather than relying on one repetitive concept. Moreover, there is an obvious historical undercurrent with the attempts to overlap actual recent events with those of the 'trumpet soundings' signaling Armageddon which added extra tension and terror. All of this made for a richer, more dramatic, horror film. I heard a lot of moaning when the film ended—mostly due, I think, to the set up for a sequel. I found the film took me all the places a horror thriller should take you. This was not a great film, as there were some problems with pace, script, and motives of the characters. Still, it serves to scare intelligently and resonates well with the current political landscape.

Review-lite [150-word cap]
In 1976, I wasn't allowed to see the original Omen. Therefore, I must confine my remarks to the 2006-version. Kudos to clever marketing and choice of release dates. With Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles oddly cast as Robert and Katherine Thorn, the parents of the excellently cast Damien, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, and Mia Farrow in the role of Mrs. Baylock, Damien's ever-protective, glassy-eyed nanny from hell, the story follows Damien's childhood until his 5th birthday when things get a little scary (ie. The nanny takes a dive off the roof during his party shouting, "This is for you, Damien." There are times when the pace was slow and the action mundane. A modest amount of predictability to the film decreased enjoyment. Still, as far as recent horror thrillers go, it utilizes a larger quiver of scare tactics rather than relying on one repetitive concept making it one of the better ones.

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