Friday, September 25, 2009

27 Days of Fright (The Reprint) - Day Twenty Two

Originally Published Monday 27th October 2008

The Omen

In many ways The Omen took all of the best ideas of horror and crammed them into the one film. This approach could have ended in disaster but rather than a mishmash of ideas slapped together the makers of The Omen managed to put together a great, cohesive movie.

In early June 1976 the wife of a high ranking American diplomat (Robert Thorn, played by Gregory Peck) in Rome gives birth to a stillborn baby. One of the Priests running the hospital suggests to Robert that they can take the child of a mother who died at the same time as their own baby passed. Deciding to save his missus the pain of losing their baby, Bob takes the child and says nothing to his wife. They go on to raise the baby as their own and name him Damien.

Robert gets a promotion and is made the US ambassador to Great Britain, so he moves the family to London. At Damien’s fifth birthday party his nanny tops herself by dramatically pegging herself off a window ledge with a rope around her neck. This is the first in line of horrific incidents that surround the Thorn’s. Damien gets a creepy new nanny who tries to run things her way and brings large dogs into the house against Robert’s will.

Robert is approached by a Priest who seems to know about Damien’s past. He confronts Robert and tries to warn him, saying that the child is evil and must die. Robert wants none of this so he ignores the warning. Until the Priest dies. Robert gets shaken up by this especially when a photographer he kinda knows shows him a series of pictures he’s taken that seem to foretell how people are dying. Disaster strikes a little closer to home when Robert’s wife suffers a severe fall caused by Damien and Robert remembers that the Priest warned him that something like this would happen. Now believing that Damien is evil he decides to find out more about his natural parents.

Travelling to Italy with the photographer (who has a picture of himself that outlines how he will die) he finds out that the hospital where Damien was born has burned to the ground, that all the records were destroyed and that the only Priest who may be able to help him is living in a remote monastery suffering from injuries from the fire sustained as an apparent penance for his involvement with Damien. Thorn discovers that his own child wasn’t a stillborn but was in fact murdered and that Damien’s mother may have been a jackal. While in Italy, news reaches Thorn that his wife has been killed.

Thorn seeks help from a dude with a cool name, Bugenhagen, who provides Thorn with some knives and the method to kill Damien. Rejecting this idea, Thorn discards the knives, just in time for his journo friend to die just as was predicted in the pictures. Finally accepting his fate Thorn returns home to kill Damien.

You wouldn't recognise a young Keanu Reeves, would you?

The Omen is a pretty flawless movie. Good actors, a great story, and the films positioning as more of a supernatural thriller than a horror make for a package that’s hard to find a problem with. But I tried and came up with the following nitpicky bits.

Like all the other horror movies that have a big religious element, The Omen deals with Catholicism and only picks out the interesting bits like Revelations. While that particular book reads like a horror story it’s the bit of the Bible that most teenage boys have read either to help them become better smartarses or to give themselves a bit of a fright, and a really original movie would do well to focus on another book of the Bible altogether (as long as they don’t ask Dan Brown for help). Also, The Omen is entirely dependent on the character of the Priest who knows everything without really explaining how and tells Thorn all he needs to know. Without the Priest to conveniently fill in the details and tell Thorn what to do, Thorn would have to figure things out for himself.

Still, these are nitpicky faults. The Omen is brilliant.

Two Thumbs Firmly Up for The Omen.

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