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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 Dawn Taylor

"All the evil of the original, but with more monkeys!"
2 stars

Should you have even a moment's doubt that the motion picture industry places revenue far above art, just remind yourself of the very existence of this remake of 1976's "The Omen." The classic horror film directed by Richard Donner was reshot for 2006 release for one reason only – because June 6, 2006 could kinda-sorta be construed as 6/6/6, and it was a good marketing gimmick to shove a new version into theaters on that date. Even though it was a Tuesday. And even though no one on Earth ever thought, "Hey, you know what we really, really need? A remake of the freakin' Omen!"

Having watched the original mere hours before seeing the new version – because my devotion to you, Dear Reader, is just that perverse – we may now compare the two and see how they stack up. Unlike many new "remakes" like "House of Wax," "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Garfield the Movie" (a pallid remake of the 1969 Italian political thriller "Il Prezzo del potere," starring Van Johnson as President James Garfield) this new "Omen" sticks closely to its original script. All of the expected set-pieces are present with most of 'em re-shot using the dialogue from the original film, thus offering a rare opportunity to look at what's better and what's not-so-better about the new version.

What's not-so-better:

1) The little boy playing Damien. In the original, young Harvey Stevens was perfectly cast as the toddler Antichrist. With his pudgy face and glowering brow, he had the aura of a mini-Oliver Reed and, with almost no dialogue, it was easy for the audience to imagine all sorts of vile thoughts going through that bowl-cut noggin. (Fun fact: The now 36-year-old Stevens appears in a walk-on role as a reporter in Omen '06!) The new Damien, however, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, merely seems grumpy, not evil. When directed to get all Beelzebubby on his parents, he looks more like he's taking a crap in his shorts just to spite them. Which is actually kind of evil when you think about it, but pooing oneself to express displeasure doesn't really play well on screen.

2) The new Daddy of the Beast . There are a number of actors who could have played Robert Thorn as well, if not better, than Gregory Peck but ... he's still Gregory Peck. B-list talent Liev Schreiber's inscrutable take on the character mostly involves sighing in frustration and cocking the occasional eyebrow, making him as bland a figure as Lee Remick was in the original (see " Julia Stiles is a better, smarter, nuttier mom," below). Frankly, it's fun to imagine what a modern actor of Peck's stature could have done with this role -- Al Pacino, say. Or just someone interesting, like Christopher Walken or Paul Giamatti. Watching Schreiber act is a little like watching a department store mannequin -- he's pretty enough, but nothing's actually going on in there.

3) The new "Armageddon as PowerPoint presentation" opening. Apparently we, the 2006 audience, are too stupid and uninformed to know what the Apocalypse is, so we get to watch some Cardinals put on a slideshow for the Pope, complete with pictures of the 9/11 disaster, quotes from Revelations and photos of Hurricane Katrina victims. It just barely skates across the thin ice of being tasteless and, frankly, I don't believe for a minute that the Pope needs to have a special puppet show put on for his benefit to explain that Bad Stuff is Happening.

4) No dead goldfish, plus one razor scooter. The justly famous scene in which little Damien tries to dispatch Mom by knocking her over a railing and sending her plummeting three floors down is shot much like the original but with a few choice differences. First, director John Moore adds a few extra shots to establish just how high up the Thorn's foyer/atrium rises. The first time, you think, Wow, that's some impressive atrium. The second time, Yep, it's sure high up. By the third, fourth and fifth establishing shots one can't help but grumble aloud, I know, I know. It's HIGH. I get it. And she's standing on a CHAIR. Way up there. HIGH. Yes. Stop it, okay? Then, to establish that this movie's all modern 'n stuff, Damien's riding a razor scooter rather than a tricycle. I don't know about you, but I think a kid trying to kill his mother while riding a trike is much creepier than one on a razor scooter. Of course, I could be overthinking that part a little. Finally, in our new "Omen," the planter full of geraniums that Mom's watering crashes to the floor first, rather than the original's bowl-o'-goldfish. It's an odd change, and it makes one wonder why it was made – perhaps to head off charges of animal cruelty? It also makes one wonder who would ever hang a planter full of geraniums in their house, because geraniums smell awful.

What's actually better this time around:

1.) Robert and Katherine's marriage is more believable. In Omen '76, there's not so much a lack of chemistry between Peck and Remick as there is an entire continent of emotional space between them. At first, it seems absurd that Robert would agree with the hospital's priest to fob a strange kid off on his wife after she's lost their baby during childbirth. But then you realize that they don't talk about anything – Robert's relationship with crazy-ass photographer Jennings (played with greasy effectiveness by David Warner) has more spark and actual communication than the one he has with his own wife. In Omen '06, however, there's bits of dialogue added here and there to flesh out the loving dysfunction between Robert and Katherine, and she's allowed more opportunity to go slowly mad with the horrible thoughts that her rugrat is some sort of scary windigo-baby.

2.) Julia Stiles is a better, smarter, nuttier mom. To expand on the above – Stiles may not be a better actress than Lee Remick, but she was certainly given more dialogue and better direction. Rather than coming off as a well-coiffed cipher and potential victim, Stiles' Katherine has a brain, is allowed some complexity of emotion and, unlike Mom '76, figures out that the kid is a little hell-monster. Sadly, though, Schreiber comes off as vapid as Remick did in the first film, so it's a dogfall.

3.) Decapitation technology has improved greatly since 1976. The lopped-off-head in Omen '76 was shocking and, to today's eyes, a bit silly, what with the fake head rolling away and all. Omen '06's decapitation is gorier, less funny and much more satisfying. I mean, if you aren't gonna have blood spurting from a still-standing body, why bother? Omen '06 delivers the goods.

4.) The creepy priest is now played by Pete Postlethwaite. In Omen '76, Father Brennan – the one who keeps showing up to serve doom 'n gloom to Thorn and ends up a church-kabob – was played by Patrick Troughton. He was the second Doctor on "Doctor Who," but to me he'll always be That Creepy Priest with the Eyebrows. Anyway, Postlethwaite is just naturally skeezy and he brings a nice wild-eyed desperation to the part that makes you think, Hey, this guy is dangerous-crazy rather than Hey, this guy has big eyebrows.. And I'm pretty sure that, with the right technology, Postlethwaite could kick the Daleks' shiny metal asses.

5.) Monkeys, monkeys, monkeys! In the original, Damien and his mom encounter big ol' baboons while visiting a drive-though safari park. The 'boons go nutzoid and start banging on the car, Lee Remick freaks out and, long after you've verbally encouraged her to do so, she remembers that, oh yeah, she's inside a car and drives away. Scary because, well, baboons are frightening. Not scary because of the whole forgetting-to-just-drive-the-car thing. In Omen '06, however, they go to the zoo and monkeys start acting up in an enclosed exhibit. Then a gorilla (of which there had been no establishing shot, so he kind of appears from nowhere) flings himself against his glass barrier, cracking it. The potential shattering of glass that's enclosing a dangerous animal is always scarier than dangerous animals jumping on the hood of one's car. Remember the 3-D shark in "Jaws 3?" Now that would have really put Omen '06 over the top, if the gorilla actually broke through the glass and went on an Antichrist-fueled, Great Ape rampage. But, no such luck. So while it's a little less scary because it's monkeys rather than baboons, Omen '06 wins because of the added gorilla and just because there are more monkeys. There should always be more monkeys, no matter what the movie.

6.) David Thewlis. If you're going to recast a role that was first played by David Warner, Thewlis is an excellent choice. And he's a welcome addition to any film, whatever the subject matter. You know, like monkeys.

As remakes go, "The Omen" is one of the better ones, sticking closely to the original and improving it in many ways. But let's be honest – the first one wasn't all that great, so we're talking about a competent remake of a decent, but mediocre, film. There are more monkeys, though, so that's something.

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originally posted: 06/07/06 07:04:36
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

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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