Omen, The (2006)

Reviewed By Lybarger
Posted 06/08/06 10:05:35

"In Hell, you’ll have the choice between this movie and 'Battlefield Earth.'"
1 stars (Total Crap)

You know a movie is not worth the celluloid it’s printed on when the only clever or even remotely original thing about it is its release date: June 6, 2006 or 6-6-06. If you have seen Richard Donner’s moderately entertaining original version of “The Omen,” you’ve already seen the remake done better.

Original screenwriter David Seltzer hasn’t worked terribly hard at updating his script. It’s almost as if he merely scanned it into a computer and made a few random search and replace adjustments.

Director John Moore, whose last film was a quickly forgotten remake of “Flight of the Phoenix,” seems to have taken a sheet of tracing paper to the original storyboards because many of the shots are in the original are imitated frame by frame.

As a result, “The Omen” feels tired, rote and indifferent throughout. Seltzer's setup is creepy. Imagine that you are unknowingly raising the Antichrist.

It’s too bad that Moore’s derivative and indifferent direction robs the story of any tension. If you haven’t caught the original, a diplomat (Liev Schriber), without the knowledge of his wife (Julia Stiles), adopts an orphan, when their child has apparently died during delivery.

As little Damien (the wooden Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) gets older, people around him die mysteriously and sometimes gruesomely. A persistent and tortured priest (Pete Postlethwaite) and a photo-journalist (David Thewlis) think they know why all of these events are happening.

Actually, it’s pretty easy to figure out. We have an amusing opening where the Pope has to be reminded what the various signs of the Apocalypse are. Even the dimmest of popes probably don’t need a lecture on this subject.

Selzer’s script has a lot of corny scenes like this one, but the original film starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, two performers who could recite banal lines and make them seem like scripture.

Schriber, on the other hand, mopes through “The Omen” in a manner that exudes indifference. Never once does it appear that he feels anything that resembles danger to himself or the people he cares about.

Stiles’ performance is stiff and awkward. Right when she’s about to convey a convincing emotion, her stilted delivery and broad expressions reduce her performance to camp.

Moore sticks in few dull inside jokes (casting “Rosemary’s Baby” star Mia Farrow as a nanny and original Damien Harvey Stephens as a tabloid reporter) but can’t bring anything to the table that Donner hasn’t delivered already.

When he isn’t aping Donner, Moore imitates other horror clichés and even makes some of the scenes look as if they’ve been leftovers for a Harry Potter movie.

It’s the worst of both worlds: Fans of the original won’t get any new shocks, and Moore’s ineptitude ruins the few jolts that the original had to offer to anyone encountering the story for the first time with the new movie.

The impact of Moore’s ham-fisted fidelity to the original is either boredom (the guy sitting next to me snored loudly during the early portions of the film) or unintentional hilarity every time somebody’s about to become injured or die.

There is nothing more to “The Omen” than its opportunistic release date. Horror fans should either rent the original or not reward the people responsible for this needless trash with their hard-earned money.

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