In this chilling remake of The Omen ? that is even more terrifying than the original ? man's darkest fears are manifested as an unspeakable terror is unleashed on the world! U.S. diplomat Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) subs... more »titutes an orphan for his own stillborn baby in order to spare his unknowing wife (Julia Stiles). But after a series of grotesque murders and dire warnings, the Thorns come to the horrifying realization that their child is the son of Satan!« less
"This is a decent re-make of a first class, gothic chiller. It is not, however, as creepy as the 1976 original, which starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, as it lacks Jerry Goldsmith's pulse pounding musical score. It also has a younger cast that lacks the gravitas of the original. Still, the film is still worth viewing, if only to see how it fares in comparison to the original, especially as the screenplay used appears to be the original one.
Katherine (Julia Stiles) and Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) are a young, affluent American couple. Katherine is pregnant and, while in Italy, gives birth to an ostensibly stillborn boy, a fact that is kept from her. Knowing how much his wife wanted the baby and the difficulty that she had in conceiving, Robert agrees to have the dead baby supplanted by a living newborn whose mother died in child birth, keeping this information from Katherine. They name this baby Damien.
All goes well for the prosperous Thorn family, until Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) turns five. A series of dramatic, unusual events begin to occur around the Thorns, all seemingly stemming from Damien. Well guarded by a somewhat creepy nanny (Mia Farrow), there are those who would believe him to be the Antichrist. By the time that Katherine and Robert begin to realize who Damien may truly be, their lives are out of control. With the aid of an inquisitive photographer, a repentant priest, and an mysterious man who holds the key to the destruction of the Antichrist, Robert Thorn becomes a man with a mission. Will Damien let him complete that mission? Watch this movie and find out.
Both Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles give credible performances, though they are no Gregory Peck or Lee Remick. Mia Farrow, as the nanny with a diabolical mission, gives a fine and genuinely creepy performance, aided in part by what appears to be a pair of collagen enhanced lips. The rest of the supporting cast is also excellent. While this re-make pales in comparison to the original, it is still enjoyable and worth watching."
An all-around lousy film
Cecily Champagne | Indiana | 10/31/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I've never seen the original THE OMEN, so - unlike most reviewers - I'm not going to compare this movie to the original; I'll simply judge it on its own merits. Unfortunately, this film is seriously lacking in merits.
Now, I understand that horror movies are unlike other movies. Their primary purpose is to startle, creep-out and disturb. So - if the dialogue is a little mannered, or if the characters aren't fully developed - well, these shortcomings can be forgiven ... but COME ON! The dialogue in THE OMEN is *ridiculously* flat and uninspired. I do not exaggerate when I say it is as if a high school student penned the script. And, while Schrieber does a passable job with his role, Stiles generates one of the worst performances I have ever seen. She should be embarrassed. The one and only star performance is Farrow's; as the nanny, she is creepier than the anti-Christ child (and it did bring a smile to my face to see the star of ROSEMARY'S BABY cast in this film: nice touch).
The sophomoric script and vapid acting wouldn't be as noticeable if the movie were actually scary. Unfortunately, other than a few merely startling moments, there is nothing terrifying about this film. Mind you, this is coming from a woman who rarely watches horror films and is very easily frightened. I had nightmares after I watched DONNIE DARKO for the first time. However, rather than squirm with anticipation (which is the effect most horror films have on me), I spent most of this movie rolling my eyes at the laughable script and poking holes in the story's logic (Are all tombs in Italy that easy to open? How did the photographer know that the maternity ward was on the third floor? Why would an attempted child-murderer get a funeral with full military honors?).
To be fair, I did like the fact that THE OMEN attempted to create terror out of atmosphere and tension rather than out of violence and gore. But the key word here is "attempted." This movie was never able to create a sense of terror.
Basically, this is a silly film. The story is not very interesting. The acting is weak. It is not frightening. I absolutely do not recommend it."
Robert Buchanan | Wisconsin | 04/15/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Hollywood will not rest until every notable horror film produced in America during the '70s or Japan over the course of the past decade has been remade. Even then, the terrible temptation of the sequel will not be resisted. A remake of the great Satanic classic "The Omen" was by no means necessary, so here it is!
This remake distinguishes itself from most of the others pumped out by major studios by not being in any way terrible. There is nothing trashy and very little that is particularly stupid in "The Omen," which is actually quite refreshing. However, there is also very little that's original here. This is perhaps the most stringently faithful remake that I've ever seen, so much so that I was able to predict nearly every single occurrence in the film ten minutes before it happened. Even the dialogue in many of the scenes is often identical to that of the source. The few variations of the story are manifest as surprises, most of which are quite effective. This film induces a few shocks and a couple of genuine scares, but that's about all. Most of this is a rather dull retread of the 1976 classic.
One of the primary sources of this blandness is Liev Schreiber, who is as wooden as a crate in the lead. I can only imagine that whichever relative stuck his foot in the door for Schreiber was the same person who did him the disservice of telling him that he can act. He affects a baritone that sounds vaguely similar to that of Gregory Peck at times, but most of his lines are delivered in a monotone and he quite literally expresses almost no emotion over the course of the entire feature. He smiles once, tries (and fails) to emote a few times and generally makes an ass of himself. Schreiber has a keen look about him and some screen presence, but he simply can not act, and whoever chose to cast him in a lead role doesn't deserve the job. Any comparison drawn between Schreiber and Peck is laughable. Gregory Peck was one of the most charismatic, commanding actors of his generation; Liev Schreiber is good-looking window dressing.
The rest of the cast is actually quite good. Stiles (whose Celt face is chubbier all the time) capably substitutes for Lee Remick; though she is neither as shrill or as convincing as her predecessor, her performance is decent, and leagues more impressive than her awful dye-job. Pete Postlethwaite plays a more subdued, less intense Father Brennan as compared to Patrick Troughton's wild-eyed delivery. Mia Farrow's role as Luciferian nanny Baylock is quite well-played and her casting is a clever (albeit obvious) reference to "Rosemary's Baby"...the trouble is, how many devoted horror fans are going to watch this to recognize the intent in the first place? While not quite a weak link, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is hardly as cute or creepy as the original Damien, Harvey Stephens.
John Moore's direction is at times very impressive; many of the scenes here are beautifully framed, and the editing is excellent. However, Jonathan Sela's cinematography bears mixed fruit. Some of the bright, oversaturated scenes invoke fond memories of the grainy 35mm stock on which so many '70s B-movies were shot. This has nothing to do with "The Omen" and it's implemented infrequently here, but it is a nice look. Unfortunately, most of the film is predictably tinted with color filters, a photographic trend that's become as ubiquitous as it is excessive in contemporary American films, and especially those of the horror genre. A hint for Mr. Sela: low backlit lighting produces much creepier results than tinting half of the entire film and producing a thoroughly blue movie, one that isn't any more atmospheric for it.
In summary: it's not too bad, it's a thing of its time and place, if it weren't made, nobody would care, it can't touch the original and it makes for a nice summer viewing if you want a few scares. That is all."
DJ Siniestro | Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz | 02/13/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Avoid at all costs! This remake didn't translate at all. The whole movie is bad joke. Many of the character's actions are illogical to the point of stupidity. This may be a good on a rainy day when there's nothing good to do."
Speak of the Devil: Another Horror Remake
Chris Pandolfi | Los Angeles, CA | 06/07/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For those of you keeping tabs on the slew of remakes invading Hollywood, you can cross another one off your list. "The Omen"--originally released in 1976 and directed by Richard Donner--was a film I found to be quite overblown, the story and characterizations stretched a little too thin to do justice to the idea behind it. Now, thirty years later, we have John Moore's remake. I had my doubts going into the theater because I knew it was reinterpreting something that wasn't very good to begin with. But for whatever reason, this new version works. At least, it works for me. At first I couldn't understand why; this is a very faithful adaptation of a baffling film, and because of that, I expected this to be equally as disappointing.
I have to admit that it was an entertaining reinterpretation. Unfortunately, the story had nothing to do with why I liked it; I think it had more to do with the film's style. It relied on pure atmosphere and mood to convey the impending terror that occurs. There are many moments encased in shadow, most of which are only lit by the occasional flash of lightening. We also get to look inside an open grave in Rome, a scene accentuated by snowy, dismally gray weather. Most importantly, we get subtle yet significant character expressions, most of which come from Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick), the young but not innocent Devil incarnate. There's a moment when he's in a dimly lit kitchen fixing himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When his mother, Katherine (Julia Stiles), enters the room, he gives her one of the creepiest stares I've ever seen a child give.
It also helped that most of the famous scenes from the original were brought back. These include Katherine falling from the upstairs landing, a priest getting impaled, and a nanny who inexplicably hangs herself. ("It's all for you, Damien!" she shouts before jumping from the roof of the Thorns' sprawling London estate. No matter how hard I try, I still can't figure out why she did it or exactly what was all for him.) Even some of Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar winning score finds its way into the remake. I suppose those of you devoted to the original film will find this troublesome, maybe even blasphemous (pardon the pun). When it comes to remakes, there's always been a fine line between a genuine update and an unimaginative rehash. Whether or not "The Omen" actually crosses that line is open for debate.
That's because, despite the new cast and the impressive cinematography, the basic story is exactly the same. It beings when U.S. ambassador to Italy Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) arrives at the hospital to be by his pregnant wife's side (apparently, she went into a rather difficult labor). He runs into Father Spiletto (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) when he arrives, and the priest gives him the bad news: the baby did not survive the delivery and Katherine will most likely never again be able to bear children. This is more than just devastating for Robert, it also puts extra pressure on him; Katherine still doesn't know what's happened, and now, he has to be the one to tell her. But Spiletto gives him another option. Another child was born that day, a boy whose mother tragically died during childbirth. As an added bonus, he has no other living family members. (Does the word "convenient" come to mind?) Robert decides to bring the boy to his wife and tell her that they have a beautiful new son who they name Damien.
Everything goes smoothly for the family over the next five or so years. Then things start to go wrong when Robert's colleague--Ambassador Steven Haines (Marshall Cup)--is killed in an accident involving a leaking gas truck and a discarded cigarette (I'm sure you can imagine what happens). But life goes on, and the Thorns eventually move from Italy to London, taking residence in an obscenely large gothic mansion. For a short while, things continue to go smoothly. Then comes Damien's birthday, an almost gala event that brings scores of children and even larger scores of photographers. It also happens to be the same day when Damien's young nanny (Amy Huck) performs her suicidal stunt.
And that's when everything starts to go downhill. The search for a new nanny yields the unexpected finding of Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow), a seemingly friendly but somehow sinister woman who takes an uncomfortable liking to Damien. She also defies the authority of his parents, especially when it comes to keeping a mean spirited stray dog in the house. Strangely enough, this behavior made her a confusing character. I was bothered by the fact that I never really got a chance to know her; she just appears out of nowhere, and even though we know what her real intentions are, we don't know why she has them. I can only speculate that she belongs to some kind of opposing factor that sent her to the Thorns.
Still, she does add a much-needed dose of tension into the story (especially in the scene when she hand feeds Damien strawberries; talk about tense). But Mrs. Baylock is only the start of the family's problems. Katherine eventually beings to notice certain things about Damien, things that other children don't seem to have to deal with. For one, she realizes that he's never once gotten sick, despite having a typically non-sterile childhood. But more importantly, he's become increasingly detached, always walking around with a blank expression and dark circles under his eyes. When she starts to have nightmares relating to her son, she knows for sure that something is wrong with him.
Robert is noticing some strange things, as well. At one point, he runs into Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), a man who seems desperate to warn him about his son. Bluntly put, he believes Damien to be the son of the Devil, and he makes his case by quoting lyrical Bible passages. As you might expect, Robert is initially unwilling to listen to what Brennan has to say, even when he insists that Katherine is in danger. Only when she takes her bad fall does Robert begin to see the pieces falling into place. It's clear, even to Keith Jennings (David Thewlis), a mysterious photographer who sees the clues in his own pictures. Evil may in fact be living among us in the form of a young boy, and if there's to be any hope of saving humanity, his body and soul have to be destroyed.
Thus begins a borderline obsessive mission, one that leads Robert and Keith from London to Rome and eventually to Isreal. Robert continually questions his own state of mind along the way, torn between believing his son is the Antichrist and the fact that he may be plotting the murder of an innocent young boy (even though we know the truth). In this sense, the writer is obviously skilled in depicting emotional turmoil. But despite the fact that I found the film's strong emotional core enticing, I think what most attracted me to it was its ad campaign (which, I realize, is not exactly meaningful).
I remember seeing the first teaser trailer for it back in the spring, one of the creepiest, tensest teasers I've ever seen. It started with a shot of a dog sitting on a rusty-looking playground carousel. Then the camera slowly pans over to a young boy sitting on a swing set. At the end of the shot, he looks directly into the camera with a simple yet terrifying gaze in his eyes. I also remember seeing plenty of billboards for it. Like the teaser, none of them had the film's title; they only had the date (6-6-06, the cleverness of which faded a long time ago) and a couple of taglines (such as "You have been warned," and "The signs are all around us"). It's probably not a good thing when a film's ads are more impressive than the film itself. I liked this movie at the most superficial level, and because of that I can only recommend it for the way it looks, not for the story it tells."