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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.4%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average: 8.55%
Pretty Bad: 21.37%
Total Crap49.57%

11 reviews, 51 user ratings

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Omen, The (2006)
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by Erik Childress

"We're Doomed If History Continues To Repeat Itself...Frame-By-Frame"
3 stars

When Gus Van Sant went through with his experiment of doing a shot-by-shot remake of Psycho, cries of sacrilege and WHY rained down upon him. While certainly misconceived and a failure I felt, like most arguments from passionate observers, that they based their anger in purity rather than facts. Hasn’t Shakespeare been done shot-by-shot in movies and theatrical productions for centuries? How was this any different? The answer is a very simple one, but its also one chosen to be ignored by Fox and director John Moore in capitalizing on a date rather than an artistic concept. In remaking Richard Donner’s 1976 pop culture horror staple, The Omen, they have literally dusted off David Seltzer’s original script. Sure, there are a few introductory (and icky) flourishes, but this is surely the easiest screenwriting credit Seltzer has ever received and one of the great missed opportunities for filmmakers to put their own stamp on old material.

ARMAGEDDON IS AT HAND! In case you’re not up on your Revelations Chapters 8 and 9, an opening scene fills you in on the angels going Louis Armstrong on the world by means of land, sea and air. Equally scary and tasteless is linking these passages to recent world disasters (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2003 Columbia Shuttle tragedy, etc…) to mark the coming of the beast on June 6, 2006 (an opening date too good for studio marketers to resist.) Liev Schreiber steps into the role originally played by Gregory Peck, an American ambassador to Great Britain who, this time, owes his job thanks to a poorly handled fuel truck. He’s presented with the horrible news that his baby has died in childbirth and is convinced by the hospital priest to adopt another child to keep wife Julia Stiles from getting upset. “God will forgive this little deception,” he is told.

Years pass, little Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) grows up and the Thorn family begin taking a slow ride into hell with him. For Damien’s viewing pleasure, their nanny hangs herself, gorillas attempt a zoo rampage and mommy is having horrific dreams about her little boy. She begins to wonder if there’s something wrong with the tyke. Why she wouldn’t grasp this after five years of the kid barely speaking a word is anyone’s guess. Into their lives come two more menacing figures. Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow) is the replacement nanny who vows a mission to protect Damien and Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite) who keeps requesting meetings with daddy to warn him of the little Keyser Soze he’s been raising all these years.

Even if you’re never seen the original film, word association with the name Damien in grade school would still get back the response, “son of the devil.” If you have, then there’s very little reason to see what’s not even a “reimagining” of the material sans the original’s creepy musical answer to The Exorcist’s “Tubular Bells.” It may not be shot-by-shot but it is virtually scene-by-scene, save for a couple niftier offings and the trifecta of dream sequences which always end with the signature loud stinger designed to get a few seat-jumps out of a film never meant to really have them. Moore, who really hasn’t raised our expectations for thrills with Behind Enemy Lines or his other Fox remake, Flight of the Phoenix (which managed to be 45 minutes shorter and yet even more boring), actually keeps the film moving along and adding a few nice touches with cinematographer Jonathan Sela (who did beautiful work on a little seen indie working the festival circuit called Dreamland) in a few of the more urgent sequences.

The Omen has always wanted to join the more brainier of the apocalyptic horror features and so its talky nature suits it rather than big scares and elaborate special effects. But with all the religious mumbo-jumbo making its way into popular culture, starting right at the top of our current administration and down through The Da Vinci Code, how interesting would it have been to question the very existence of the material to begin with? Since there are varying degrees of beliefs being shuffled throughout, the conception that Damien may not be the devil’s seed is a fascinating one to explore. I’m sure it wouldn’t please the Catholic Church to have another film portray them as wackos, but imagine a screenwriter coming in and toying with two belief systems conflicted between saving and snuffing out a child to protect a way of life they’ve come to accept as truth.

Abortion already plays a major role in the film, even if the priests never bat an eye at it, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Schreiber’s mixed feelings about the Church are touched upon (far more than Hanks’ in Da Vinci) but never provide a clear understanding to why he’s indifferent yet has memorized the poems of Revelation. David Thewlis’ photographer has the original Final Destination signs on his pictures, so then why is there never anything on the ones of Schreiber & Stiles? Clearly he’s got hundreds lying around since that’s who he has been snapping up the whole time. Getting Mia Farrow to play the protective nana is inspired, but it ends at the casting decision. She has a marvelous opening scene that may have actually led to some “for your consideration” ads late in the year if the rest of her role had been just as juicy. The irony of tying in Rosemary Woodhouse’ final scene to 38 years later where she has dedicated her life to nurturing the devil’s spawn is too rich to ignore, but like everything other than the original script, it sadly is.

I enjoyed The Omen probably a little more than I should. The ickiness of the prologue gets to be more of a turn-off when the film doesn’t seek to explore a more theological-vs.-humanistic approach to its explotive theories. Schreiber is certainly no Peck, but does solid work as the conflicted father especially in the later scenes. Only Michael Gambon fails to keep the silliness factor at bay, amping up the camp stock in Leo McKern’s role as the piously nutty Bugenhagen, keeper of the knives meant to destroy Satan and coming off like a character in a Monty Python sketch in the process. We have seen Hamlet and Macbeth many times, but each of those instances (the good ones, anyway) have come with the director’s own interpretation of the material, not just word-for-word readings with actors blueprinting the performances which came before them. John Moore has ultimately succeeded in creating an adequate xerox of the first film but failed to keep us asking why it was worth doing in the first place.

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originally posted: 06/06/06 14:14:41
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User Comments

2/14/17 morris campbell trash watch the original enough said 1 stars
10/29/10 millersxing risible trash 1 stars
1/06/10 art A SHOT FOR SHOT remake of the 76 horror film,it's a real HOMAGE! 4 stars
11/23/09 Jeff Wilder Hollywood needs to lay off on the damn classic horror remakes. What's next, The Exorcist? 2 stars
11/09/09 David A. a feeble rehash of the original 2 stars
6/23/09 Ashutosh great film 4 stars
2/11/09 martz Cool film. Bit of a crappy ending though. 4 stars
2/09/09 mark dedasco Got a serious kick out of this stylish remake 5 stars
1/25/09 John leaper was the bomb 5 stars
1/11/09 filibuster fred Rockin remake- really loved it!!! 5 stars
10/31/08 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 1 stars
4/02/08 superfriek this movie ROCKS 5 stars
2/06/08 Mick Damian looks like a future Special Olympics entry, instead of the devil. 1 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann The most uninspired, lazy remake I've ever seen.One word sums up the making of this: WHY? 1 stars
6/18/07 fools♫gold Yeah, awasteoftime ifyou'renotin aloudtheater forthose2scares that aren't worth mentioning. 1 stars
2/09/07 Stanley Thai It wasn't good but it wasn't bad either. 3 stars
2/04/07 steve owen the devil made me watch it!! 1 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Scary, but when you watch it, you'll keep looking for the original. 4 stars
1/07/07 Quicksilver It takes special effects and makes the movie scarier.This is not an insult but a tribute 5 stars
12/19/06 Indrid Cold It's slick enough, but highly predictable and unscary. 2 stars
12/18/06 JeromeBosch I anticipated so much worse…This was quite entertaining. 3 stars
12/13/06 mig Oh man, what a bad thing! 1 stars
12/09/06 tiffany Seemed pretty good to me... 4 stars
12/05/06 Anonymous It was bland, the original was basically better, but i hate the filming of the 1976 film. 2 stars
10/21/06 Chri s Mazur Hauntingly bad. I can't believe John Moore got paid to make another really shitty movie. 1 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant Laughably bad. Do yourself a favor and BUY the original. 1 stars
7/30/06 Doug It has the artistic subtlety of an airhorn. 1 stars
7/25/06 DK The best of the recent crop of remakes better than original 5 stars
7/15/06 michael worth checking out 3 stars
7/15/06 Alfred Guy Why was this made? 2 stars
6/26/06 Laura Really quite good although somewhat too much like the original. 4 stars
6/20/06 Jason Hyde Pete Postlethwaite, you are no Patrick Troughton 1 stars
6/20/06 joan isenberg the unremarkable tendency of people to confuse evil with evil. 5 stars
6/19/06 Emily A waste of time, nothing could beat the original, no suspense,extremely bland 3 stars
6/16/06 Satanic Majesty Painful to watch, dull, lifeless and a waste of time 1 stars
6/13/06 David Fowler Pointless, flat remake of one of the greatest horror films ever made. Bland and silly. 1 stars
6/13/06 Tasia I just saw this movie today..I thought it was great..just like the original, very well done 5 stars
6/13/06 TyrantisTerror Anthony G is correct, this film is a laugh riot. Bugenhagen. 1 stars
6/11/06 Anthony G Funniest movie of the year!!!!!! oh, wait a second.... 1 stars
6/10/06 gman Did anyone notice the mircophone in about 4 scenes 2 stars
6/10/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty half-assed in all facets 2 stars
6/09/06 Sumixam fans will dig, didn't realise full potential though 4 stars
6/09/06 Shoshannah I would deffinitely pay to see it again! 5 stars
6/09/06 DK AWESOMO 5 stars
6/08/06 San Lamar just do yourself a favor and only watch the original 1 stars
6/08/06 Stephen P. Robertson This is a mockery of the original 1 stars
6/08/06 A Bomb The movie was mad as, but doesnt surpas the original, 5 stars
6/07/06 John T Better than the original, a must see NOT! 1 stars
6/07/06 Haether mctathey your movie was crapy and shitty!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
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  06-Jun-2006 (R)
  DVD: 17-Oct-2006



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