The Omen (2006, John Moore)


Spoiler warning: these reviews reveal plot twists.

In this remake of the 1976 original, Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) is appointed deputy ambassador to Great Britain, so blah blah blah moves to England blah blah blah wife Katherine (Julia Stiles) blah blah blah son Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) blah blah blah strange deaths…

Best performance: In almost every main role is a decent actor, yet not one of them betters the first movie’s equivalent. Having said that, Pete Postlethwaite is appropriately troubled as Father Brennan; Mia Farrow is creepy as Mrs Baylock. (Harvey Stephens, who’d played Damien in 1976, has an unconvincing one-line cameo as a journalist.)

Best death: The beheading of photographer Keith Jennings (David Thewlis) is given a neat twist – rather than a sheet of glass flung sideways, it’s now a metal sign that falls loose of the wall, swings down and chops his head off as he stands.

Review: This mechanical remake was directed by John Moore, who later spunked up another film series with the abysmal A Good Day to Die Hard. As others have said, it’s more a release date than a movie – the temptation of The Omen coming out on 6 June 2006 (6/6/6, if you squint) was too strong to resist. And it comes off quite badly when compared to the original. For instance, see Robert Thorn’s first encounter with Father Brennan. In 1976, the scene was staged in a small, cramped office with its door locked; Thorn is backed into a corner and feels trapped and threatened. Now, the conversation is in the enormous, empty lobby of the embassy, so Robert is able to call for help from armed guards any time he likes. Also, check out the scene where Damien visits a zoo and the animals go, well, ape-shit. Originally, Damien and his mother are in a small car driving through a safari section – they get attacked from all sides and it’s terrifying. Now, the scene is in an unimpressive interior space and the primates are all behind thick glass. In short, the director’s staging choices have no relationship to the drama. There are also many more horror-movie clichés than in the original – especially in dream sequences that go very quiet then SUDDENLY THROW IN A LOUD SOUND. That superficial trick is emblematic of the whole film: it wants to jolt you, rather than *disturb* you. It’s perhaps telling that fun can be had in spotting how often the colour red is linked to Damien and his activities – it’s evident in Kate’s nightmares, Damien’s bedspread, a balloon at the zoo, the strawberries fed to the boy by Mrs Baylock, the flowers Kate is tending when she’s hit by Damien’s (red-wheeled) scooter, and at many other times. But you shouldn’t be consciously noticing this sort of thing if the film is doing its job.

Four sacrificial daggers out of 10

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