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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 13.86%
Average: 4.95%
Pretty Bad: 6.93%
Total Crap: 4.95%

3 reviews, 83 user ratings

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Omen, The (1976)
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by PaulBryant

"Just a mischievous, rambunctious kid? Was Cosmo Kramer right?"
5 stars

For some reason a bunch of people decided to get together and remake Richard Donner’s now-classic 1976 bit of suspense-horror, The Omen. My guess is that the only real reason this is happening (beyond the obvious money-making motives which drive most all filmmaking) is because they’ve been able to finish and promote the film for the perfect, once-in-a-century release date, 6 June, 2006 - or, expressed in those famous Biblical numbers, 6-6-6.

Who knows what they’ll do with the remake, but it is hard to imagine the original will be topped. Though not a brilliant film by anyone’s stretch of the imagination, Donner’s flick is crafty, economical, and packs a psychological punch that so many films in the so-called horror genre nowadays rarely achieve. In current horror movies, more blood is almost always the order of the day. So much so that I worry that this is what we’re in for with the remake: a bloodified gore fest in lieu of the most intriguing parts of the original Omen, the tension-fraught sequences before and after the instances of violence.

Unlike William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, which had the precondition of Devil-belief at its grotesque heart, The Omen proves to be thankfully, though not pristinely, more ambiguous. This ambiguity, even if one has to look past a lot of directorial manipulation to get to it, makes the film rather interesting as it offers a reading of the film for the skeptic who says ‘What’s all this about an Antichrist and why is Gregory Peck convinced he has one?’ as well as the viewer who says ‘See! See! The Devil’s greatest lie is that He doesn’t exist and The Omen shows the Book of Revelation is right that the earthly number of The Beast will be 666!’

The plot basically flows like this. The wife of an American ambassador (wife played by Lee Remick, ambassador played by Gregory Peck) gives birth to a stillborn baby on, you guessed it, the 6th of June at, that’s right, 6 A.M. She is not told of her baby’s status, and in hopes of not sending his wife into depression, ambassador Peck decides to adopt a baby born in the hospital at the exact same time, whose mother doesn’t want him. This seems a good decision at the time, but as the child (whom they name Damien) grows up it appears he might be different from other little boys. Damien never gets sick, he repels members of the animal kingdom with alarming force (except dogs, as dogs are always evil), and his nannies have a penchant for going nuts. Soon, a priest comes to Peck’s office to tell him his son is, in fact, the Antichrist, and plants the seed in Peck’s mind that Damien is responsible for the wave of horrible occurrences that plague the family. This appears to be a logical explanation as Damien’s nanny commits suicide, Peck’s wife has a unfortunate fall off their balcony, and general disorder envelops the ambassador’s life.

Based on a rather plain reading of the plot, the viewer could infer that little Damien was in fact the spawn child of the Devil. You could believe that the woman who gave him over to Gregory Peck really was impregnated by a jackal, and that now Damien is almost unwittingly rising from the “Eternal Sea” – a quote from the film which is translated conveniently as being “the world of politics” – to create his Empire of Evil on earth. But then, if he really was The Beast, it seems ridiculous that he would have such a hard time killing his earthly father, whom he lets survive throughout the whole picture without hardly a scratch even though Peck drives around in how many cars and flies around in how many planes? Pretty lousy excuse for a Devil-child if you ask me.

In any case, this interpretation is absurd. I prefer the reading Richard Donner talks about in an interview from The Omen DVD, which I happen to own. The director explains that he always saw the film as a portrait of the psychological decline into insanity of the Peck and Remick characters. I lean toward this interpretation not because it explains everything in the plot as satisfyingly as does the other, more ‘horror/scary’ reading of the film, but more so because it says something interesting about the power that religious faith can wield over mankind. It explains how even the most wild, horrific, virtually unfathomable, coincidences that occur in the world can most likely be explained, and to not search out this simpler explanation in favor of opting for bizarre religious prophesies or faith-based interpretations, is nothing but a human failure. Peck is therefore correct to be initially skeptical when the priest tells him Damien is evil and that he must be killed in order to save mankind. Consequently, the evolution of his character after this initial skepticism is not one of gradually realizing the truth, but instead of being led further and further away from it.

But in the end I think I mostly enjoy The Omen for sentimental reasons – sentimental reasons being hardly rational, but reasons all the same. I vividly recall seeing it as a youngish child with my parents, no doubt up too late on a rainy Saturday night. The rented VHS version scared the proverbial hell out of that child who was me, as the idea of there being a Devil, much less an Antichrist who was only few years my junior, had probably not entered my mind. The result of a film that suggested this, naturally, was terrifying. Now, despite the fact that I’ve lost the possibility for The Omen to arouse any sort of fear within me, I look upon the terror it once produced fondly. It reminds me that cinema has a distinct, visceral power to impact people, even though this particular film can no longer impact me in that way.

Seeing it now, amid a bit more knowledge and a lot less innocence, the movie produces little cold sweat and raises few goosebumps. I suppose I’ve moved past the old saw that says the greatest lie the Devil ever told is that He doesn’t exist, and concluded instead that the greatest lie mankind has ever told is that He does. After all, even if The Beast did exist and actually popped up somewhere here on earth, what disasters could he possibly inflict that would compete with the instances of human evil seen in the Holocaust, the Crusades, or the current genocide in Darfur?

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originally posted: 06/02/06 12:37:40
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User Comments

9/22/17 morris campbell effective horror piece love the last scene 4 stars
11/05/12 Marty Disappointed. Cool decapitation scene but movie not scary enough. 3 stars
1/06/10 art A REVERSE THAT,THE OMEN DID IT BETTER THAN rosemary's baby! 3 stars
7/19/09 art ROSEMARY"S BABY did it better. 1 stars
11/17/08 action movie fan good religeous shocker-well made eerie, with excellent effects-great score too 4 stars
2/04/08 Pamela White Think suspense great thriller without the gore 5 stars
10/13/07 Pal Joey anyone who doesn't like this classic is scarily stupid 5 stars
9/09/07 Talon Fantastic film, a psycological suspense thriller with a morbid atmosphere. 5 stars
9/02/07 anouka The Omen deserves its classic status. And that ending, followed by THE SMILE, brilliant 5 stars
5/02/07 Tracey Chambers not scary. but creepy. good movie. 4 stars
4/08/07 Chris Redmond The most chilling musical score in cinema history. Surpasses even Jaws and The Exorcist. 5 stars
2/16/07 Shahreen Akhter it was not scary at all 2 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Belongs to the 10 scariest movies of all time. An all-time classic, to be remembered. 5 stars
1/07/07 Quicksilver Wonderful movie, with awesome deaths and a haunting operatic score (AAVEE SATANNNII!) 5 stars
12/13/06 mig One of the great classics of 70's horror! 5 stars
6/16/06 Ole Man Bourbon Born of a jackyl!@!!!!!!!1111 Awesome. 5 stars
6/11/06 myself I will watch it again 5 stars
6/10/06 Shahreen Akhter this is the only movie that scared me 5 stars
6/05/06 Sandra Rodenas 3 stars
6/04/06 michael great horror flick, just wonder how good the new one will be 5 stars
6/03/06 bob totally creepy 1 stars
5/03/06 Dave Kicks ass on many levels, The whole movie keeps you on the edge of your seat. AWESOME 5 stars
4/03/06 Reklc Classic!!! 5 stars
3/22/06 Larisa Moreno A true classic, horror film - very creepy! 5 stars
11/26/05 cr a classic horror picture with class,the story of revelations, even scarier 4 stars
10/24/05 Brent Stevenson good but very scary!!! 5 stars
3/28/05 William This movies scared the $^#@ out of me. I needed another horror movie just to bring me down 5 stars
3/04/05 Littlepurch Great acting, some cool deaths and scenes that are acutally scary! Go 70s! 5 stars
2/12/05 H.P. Lovecraft Excellent movie. 5 stars
11/01/04 ODH One of the best horror films I have ever seen. 666!!! 5 stars
10/26/04 Debbie Phenomenal biblical truth portrayed on film by top actors 5 stars
10/24/04 johnny mettlach a classic horror story with a great musical score and strong performances 5 stars
10/04/04 LIAM JACKSON outstanding film. damian is really cool. 5 stars
9/04/04 T.B. A another famous horror film like the exorcist 5 stars
7/29/04 rishab jainani it's a good movie..awesome 5 stars
12/07/03 john sensational! 5 stars
10/14/03 Erik Van Sant True horror in every sense of the word. Donner's next great film was 'The Goonies'. 5 stars
10/01/03 Samuel Justus Great 70's Horror! I'd like to see a remake..SOON! 4 stars
8/07/03 Alice Great 5 stars
7/09/03 Sid Mindblowing 5 stars
7/08/03 King Richard Scared the poop out of me. Much better than the shit that comes out today. 5 stars
4/13/03 Jack Sommersby An effective chiller. 4 stars
4/05/03 LIAM JACKSON outstanding film. damian is really cool. 5 stars
12/06/02 Justine Lewis I Love it But I love Damian omen 5 stars
12/05/02 Kyle A classic. Very chilling! 5 stars
11/17/02 Nevz wierd 5 stars
10/29/02 jimmy johnson good film 5 stars
10/24/02 Charles Tatum Scary as heck 5 stars
9/02/02 Erik North Classic 1970s horror film--unsettling as Hell, literally! 5 stars
8/18/02 Scott GREAT movie! damian will always scare the living shit outta me! 5 stars
8/07/02 I Can't Swim Music never more suited to the film; also loved Gregory vs. Mrs. Blaylock! 5 stars
6/23/02 Graham McDonald Some people have compared it to the Exorcist, but it's faaaaaaaaaar mor compelling and even 5 stars
6/14/02 daniel biasatti beautiful, stylish, classic 5 stars
5/24/02 Jeremy Whitman Flamin heck, this is a Top notch flick you flamin git 5 stars
4/25/02 andrew stephens it is the best movie i had ever seen in my life 5 stars
3/04/02 R.W. Welch Far-out yarn manages to sustain a singularly ominous aura. Skip the sequels. 4 stars
2/12/02 Nevz Truly Evil 5 stars
1/16/02 David A. Exciting, but not really scary. It's entertainment 5 stars
11/27/01 KMG Gregory Peck is da bomb!!!! 4 stars
10/31/01 Brook it starts off kinda borring but gets better 3 stars
10/15/01 Andrew Carden Badly Made, Unscary, Boring, Unexciting, and Stupid Exorcist Rip-Off. 1 stars
9/28/01 Matthew Bartley Better than the Exorcist 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk The best Richard Donner film ever. Still creepy after all these years. 5 stars
6/02/01 Erik North Similar to THE EXORCIST--but even more disturbing 5 stars
5/20/01 Stewart Worth renting for Jerry Goldsmith's loud but chilling musical score alone. 4 stars
4/30/01 HOmer Simpson It's a god horror movie 4 stars
3/23/01 viking pseudo Biblical claptrap 1 stars
2/24/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) Disturbing and horrible...on par with The Exorcist... 5 stars
12/31/00 sean mackey really good scary movie 5 stars
11/05/00 Dani Richardson Its the greatest horror film ever. Nothing else comes close 5 stars
8/25/00 Joep awesome movie worth seeing! 5 stars
8/19/00 Elvisfan Haven't seen it in awhile but I bet it still holds up pretty well 5 stars
7/25/00 homer simpson it does not get any better than this!! 5 stars
2/26/00 jake mostov a big piece of crap! 1 stars
1/13/00 k.tomkowski one of the best hooror movies, maybe the best, super script 5 stars
10/23/99 The Bomb 69 predictable 3 stars
2/02/99 Matthew Bartley The most terrifying thing is the camera guy developing his eerie photos 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Exciting, tense horror film 4 stars
11/12/98 Lord Of The Dunce Spooky as all fuck. A great seventy's classic. 5 stars
10/29/98 Silent Rob A great film, it's pretty much like watching home movies of my childhood! Great ending! 4 stars
10/20/98 {{{OZ}}} 70's horror always had Gregorian chant soundtracks, but this was still an awesome film. 5 stars
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  25-Jun-1976 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jun-2006

  N/A (18)
  DVD: 17-May-2001

  12-Aug-1976 (R)

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