The Antichrist is Among Us: An 'Omen' Retrospective

The stage is set for the final battle between heaven and hell in The Omen, from 1976! With the birth of Damien, the world may be at its end, but he will be wrought through a series of tests in the first sequel before his inevitable rise to power in the thrilling conclusion, Final Conflict. Another unrelated sequel would follow in 1991 as The Awakening, while Fox would benefit from the timely release of The Omen remake on 6/6/06. I Like Horror Movies recounts all five films in tonight's feature, The Antichrist is Among Us: An 'Omen' Retrospective.

The Omen (1976)

The newly-appointed ambassador to England begins to suspect that his changeling son may actually be the spawn of Satan after a rash of unexplained deaths suddenly overtake his family in THE OMEN. Evil has taken a new form, that of an innocent child who is unaware of the sinister fate that surrounds him. THE OMEN is a fitting follow-up to ROSEMARY'S BABY, as it shares the same underlying sense of delusion and paranoia. We can never really be certain as to whether or not Damien truly is the son of the devil, although we are clearly being swayed in one direction by Jerry Goldsmith's operatic score and the overwhelming amount of evidence laid before us. Still, the deaths of Damien's nanny and the others can just as easily be dismissed as unfortunate coincidences, which makes Robert Thorn's ultimate decision that much more suspenseful in the end. Young Harvey Stephens is expertly cast as Damien. He is sweet and naive, and even if we are to presume that he is the devil in the flesh, we can't bear to see any harm come to him. Gregory Peck provides a genre-defining role as the grief-stricken Robert Thorn. Even in his more outlandish moments, he commands the screen. Director Richard Donner also strikes an even balance between the growing tension and outright shocks within the film. An all-time classic, to say the least.

Rating: 9/10.

Damien: The Omen 2 (1978)


Damien Thorn is placed in the care of his uncle, the owner of Thorn Industries, after the untimely deaths of his parents. As he approaches his thirteenth birthday, the demonic forces at work will stop at nothing to see the Antichrist rise to power, meaning death to all those who oppose him! The next thrilling chapter in THE OMEN series is an excellent continuation of Damien's story. Damien is just coming to understand his own powers, but he has not yet accepted the role of the destructor. As a budding adolescent, he is caught between the innocence of childhood and the unholy destiny that awaits him. Jonathan Scott-Taylor embodies these dual personas beautifully, allowing the audience to relate to the unfortunate circumstances that surround him though they despise the growing evil that dwells within him. This is only achieved through Don Taylor's deliberately slow pace and a character-driven story arch. Academy Award winner William Holden also offers a dignified performance as Richard Thorn, while Jerry Goldsmith returns with another powerful score. The scene is now set for the Antichrist to come to full power in THE OMEN 3: FINAL CONFLICT.

Rating: 8/10.

Final Conflict: The Omen 3 (1981)


The battle between good and evil will now be decided in THE OMEN 3: THE FINAL CONFLICT! Damien Thorn has eased his way in to political power through the international peace missions of his company, Thorn Industries, but with each step closer to the presidency, Damien's plans for world domination near completion. There is only one power that can stop him now: The second coming of Christ, whose rebirth is marked by the alignment of three stars in the heavens. Now, Damien seeks to destroy The Nazarene while corrupting as many souls as he can in the process!

Director Graham Baker follows the same relaxed pace in THE FINAL CONFLICT as we have seen in the first two OMEN films, but unfortunately, his timely approach never pays off. There is no 'final conflict,' as the title suggests. Instead, the series stops short with a disappointing and anticlimactic finale. That isn't to say that this third entry is entirely without merit, however. Sam Neill steps straight out of the Book of Revelations with his frightening portrayal of the Antichrist. He is handsome and charming, yet behind every crooked smile, we can see his sinister intent. Neill delivers several earth-shattering monologues that are sure to make even non-believers uncomfortable. THE FINAL CONFLICT also boasts some of the darkest moments in the series, including Damien's plan to rid England of all male children born on March 24th in the hopes of killing the Christ child. As the closing chapter to the original lineage, THE OMEN 3 is a worthwhile addition to the series, though the abrupt ending and condensed storytelling leave something to be desired.

Rating: 7/10.

The Omen 4: The Awakening (1991)


All the York's ever wanted was a little girl, but they will get more than they bargained for when they adopt young Delia into the family... A number of strange deaths lead Mrs. York to suspect that there is something terribly wrong with her new daughter, but the truth is more horrifying than she could ever imagine! This ill-conceived rebirth of THE OMEN series wreaks of bad television, with comically overacted characters abound and plenty of artless direction. Nothing can be taken seriously in THE AWAKENING. It is made clear from the very beginning that Delia is evil, so the game isn't to find out whether or not she is truly the devil's daughter, but how and when she will strike next. That being the case, Asia Vieira plays the part well as the cunning and manipulative little liar. It is too bad the same can't be said for her adult counterparts. Some guilty pleasure can be found in the FINAL DESTINATION-like death scenes, but not enough to justify the rest of this tacky production.

Rating: 5/10.

The Omen (2006)


The opportunists at 20th Century Fox were finally given the perfect excuse for a major Hollywood remake on 6/6/2006, the day the Antichrist was reborn. THE OMEN comes as close to being a shot-for-shot remake as any film since Gus Van Sant's PSYCHO, which makes the motives behind the film's making that much more clear. None of the deaths serve to shock or surprise, when they are all taken directly from the original without any reworking. John Moore directs based on David Seltzer's earlier screenplay as well, with few variations. Just in case anyone had any doubts after the ambiguous ending of Richard Donner's film, Moore has hired the evilest looking actor he could possibly find to fill the role of Damien. This, along with the unnecessary nightmare sequences, strips away what little mystery and suspense were left. Instead, we are left with a boring retread of the same exact film as played by a half-hearted cast. Moore has given us no reason to choose to watch his version over the original, so it is best left forgotten.

Rating: 7/10.

See Also: Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Antichrist, 666: The Child.

2 comments:

  1. You gave the remake the same 7/10 rating as The Final Conflict? Outrageous.

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  2. Numeric ratings are inherently flawed, and I only attach them for brevity but never to replace the review, itself. I defer to the content of each review for our actual opinions.

    The greatest crime that is committed by the remake is redundancy, but considering just how similar it is to the original, how can one be rating at a 9 or 10 while the other rates below average?

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