General Release 2006
110 minutes approx
Robert Thorn -
Katherine Thorn -
Keith Jennings -
Father Brennan -
Mrs Baylock -
Directed by -
Written by -
When Robert Thorn's son dies at birth, he takes on that of an unmarried mother who also died in childbirth. Years later, a string of strange events lead his wife Cathy to believe that all is not well with the young Damien. The suicide of a young nanny also brings a new woman (and dog) into the household.
A strange priest approaches Thorn to tell him that his adopted son is none other than the son of the devil. Thorn dismisses the notion as lunacy, but then the priest turns up dead and a young photographer comes up with compelling evidence that takes Thorn back to Rome and the truth about his son.
As with the contemporary remake POSEIDON you have just got to ask 'Why remake THE OMEN?' True, it's not the greatest piece of cinematic history, but it is a pretty effective scary movie that relies for all its shocks on atmosphere, plotting and the bizarre deaths that befell its cast (what you thought that first came with FINAL DESTINATION?) none of which are in current vogue at the moment.
There is a fashion for remaking old horror movies, both asian and western, and perhaps the time is ripe for a reinterpretation of the tale. The thing is, nobody has reinterpreted anything. The plot is exactly (and I do mean exactly) as the original was, the dialogue almost word for word the same. Apart from a few minor location changes (no trips to public school) and tweaks to the famous death scenes, everything is identical.
Which rather begs the question, why should I go see it at all?
The simple truth of the matter is that if you have already seen the original then you really have no need to go and see this version. There's nothing new for you and nothing is done any better than in the original.
Which is not to say that it's bad because it isn't. It is as effective as the original was, as scary as the original and as tightly plotted as the original was. The dogfight in the cemetary has also been given more action. If you haven't seen the original version, then this is a good ghost story of the old school, convincing, long on tension and short on jump cuts.
So we come to the comparisons. They are inevitable, since the film is almost a shot-for-shot remounting. The cast do extremely well. Few of them fail to match up to their predecessors. Liev Schreiber takes the film on his shoulders as Robert Thorn and is actually more convincing than Gregory Peck was, but then he is more the right age and he is doing a pretty damn good impression of Peck. If you close your eyes at some points, you would be hard pressed to tell them apart.
Julia Stiles plays the haunted mother first essayed by Lee Remick and comes out of with honour intact, though her character goes through the worst of events, both physically and emotionally. She captures the pain of a woman who thinks that she is losing her mind as well as anyone could expect in a genre film like this.
David Thewlis also matches David Warner as the photographer with a unique interest in the case.
The lesser characters fare less well. Mia Farrow just can't do threatening and is certainly not a patch on Billie Whitelaw's psycho nanny from the original.
The normally dependable Pete Postlethwaite (reduced to doing little more than cameos these days, it seems) is dependable, but he doesn't match up to the edgy insanity of ex-Doctor Who Patrick Troughton who exuded mortal fear as the doomed priest.
And there isn't a film yet made (or remade) that could be improved by the lack of Leo McKern. As Bougen Haygen, the man who explains how Damien can be killed, Michael Gambon is a pale reflection.
On the whole, though, THE OMEN is a film for those that have never seen the original and if you haven't and you like your horror scary and well-written rather than bloody, you will find this will do you nicely. If you like blood-spurting gore fests, this isn't the one for you.Top
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