And a comet rips the sky
and the Holy Roman Empire rises
then you and I must die
From the eternal sea he rises
creating armies on either shore
turning man against his brother
‘till man exists no more
From the start I have to admit that watching this film on its release date, 6/6/06, was just cool. I know for some people Tuesday, June 6, 2006 was like the new Y2K but come one people. The worst thing that happened on that date was that gas prices went up about 15 cents. Releasing the Omen on 6/6/06 was not only cool, but also a great marketing tool. Especially since that last day of the movie is June 6. That was just fun.
Our story follows the life of Italian Ambassador Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) and his wife, Katherine (Julia Stiles). At a hospital in Rome, the Thorn’s son is stillborn and Katherine is unaware. A priest whom works in the maternity ward approaches Mr. Thorne with and tells him that on that same night a baby boy was born and the mother died during childbirth. The priest suggests that Mr. Thorn take the orphan and present it to Katherine and the world as their own. Robert agrees and only he and the hospital staff are aware of the events.
Ten years later Robert and his family have moved to London where Robert has been made Ambassador to England. A priest enters the American Embassy and reports to Robert Thorn that he is aware of where and how his son, Damien, was born and that he is, in fact, the son of the devil. The priest instructs Robert that Damien will kill Katherine, and once he is set to inherit all that Robert owns he will kill him as well. Thus ensues a race against time as Damien grows stronger and those who can stop him are dying off one by one.
The opening credits and first scene of this film are quite intriguing. A priest is searching through scripture and interpreting the signs of the times. He reports to a council of priests that, of course, the Apocalypse is upon us. Like many religious groups have done recently and in the past, they interpret the signs in the book of Revelation as already happening, happened, or on the brink of occurring. From what I’ve been taught in Seminary, the book of Revelation is a testament of Christ’s return and is also a metaphorical book, not to be translated literally. We are not to know the day of the end of this world as Christ told his disciples in Matthew 24:
42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
As the priest was reporting to the council of the end of the world, he was reading from Revelation, chapter 8, which tells of seven angels blowing seven trumpets and with each trumpet a disaster occurs which are signs of the Apocalypse. With each trumpet he presents slides on a projector that depict the disasters in each verse being carried out in the world. The priest reads Revelation 8:8, which reads, “And the second angel sounded, and, as it were, a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea…” In the film, the verse is translated differently, however, along with this verse the priest shows a video clip of the Trade Towers falling. A very still hush fell over the crowded theater after seeing this short clip, along with later clips of Katrina and Iraq.
I’ve said it once and I will say it again, in the horror genre the acting makes the film and, in this case, they got it right again. I have to admit that I thought Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles to be odd choices, but Liev carried the film well. (Being a fan of the Scream trilogy, I can’t help that every time I see Liev I can can’t help but say, “Cotton!”)
Julia’s character, Katherine, is the most identifiable and heartbreaking character in the film. She is the innocent caught in a web of events that she has no control over. Katherine suffers because of her own estranged son who she never suspected was not of her own blood.
Liev’s character, Robert, is the “hero” of the film who embarks on a mission to stop Damien from ripping his family and the world apart. Because he is the only one who knows the truth, he is the only one who can stop Damien.
Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick plays Damien, the Son of Satan, in the film. I have to say that, to the audience, many of his facial expressions came of as campy and even corny. However, I think he was genuinely creepy coming from a ten-year-old boy. If my own son looked at me the way Damien often looked at the audience or another character, I would be freaked out.
Much to my excitement this remake of the 1976’s the Omen was very faithful to the original film. With things like the Twin Towers clip the film was catered to a new generation and audience, however it still had the plot points and imagery of the original film. For those who have seen the 1976 film, remember the priest who gets skewered by a steeple? Let me just say that I never would have thought that scene could be made more surprising and gruesome, but they pulled it off.
The direction and effects in this movie carried it very well. Director John Moore (Flight of the Phoenix, Behind Enemy Lines) gives the entire film a dreary overtone, which, is reasonable considering the plot. In the scene where Katherine falls from the third story banister of her home, as we have all seen in the previews, you actually feel her hit the hardwood floor as the camera falls with her and we see her body hit without any cuts. You feel her hurt as she hits much like the scene in the Exorcist where Regan is being thrashed around in her bed. It looks like an effect that actually hurt to actor, which, to me, shows a dedication to the performance. For those who understand the mechanics of this type of shot, it is a genuinely hard shot to achieve without looking silly.
In my opinion, this was a very intelligent film. There is entertainment at face value but there is so much under the surface that digs into scripture and philosophy. An example of this is one of my favorite parts of this film. Robert and a reporter are trying to interpret a line from the poem written atop this review. The reporter discovers that “from the eternal sea he rises” is representing the eternal sea of politics. The Son of Satan will not rise from the literal sea, but the raging sea that is politics. And Robert Thorn, of course, is an American Ambassador and related to the President of the United States.
As many horror films do, the Omen brings up thoughts of religious beliefs and curious questions about the end of the world. Let me encourage those who are intrigued by the subject matter of this film to study the book of Revelation and its mysteries. However, those who are young in Christian faith or doubtful, take it one step at a time. Revelation can be a confusing and scary book when misinterpreted, as this movie conveys.
In the film, a priest played by Pete Postlethwaite approaches Robert Thorn and tells him of his son and then tells him, “Accept Christ. Drink of his blood. Eat of his flesh.” Let me leave my readers with this question: Why would accepting Christ help Robert Thorn in his situation? The answer? Because Damien is trying to kill Robert, therefore, if he fails to stop Damien, his only salvation then is found in Christ.
I enjoyed watching this film, however, it wasn’t the best film of the year. As a horror film, it wasn’t very scary. There is a fair share of gore but not much profanity. The Omen is rated “R” for violent content, graphic images and some language. It had its moments, but I would overall put this film in the drama/thriller genre before horror, however, the subject matter would never permit. My recommendation is to wait for video and watch it on the couch on a dark night. Overall, I give it one thump up and a pat on the back.