The Omen (1976)
The Omen (1976)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
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The young son of an American diplomat and his wife, living in London, turns out to be marked with the sign of Satan, the infamous "666". It soon becomes apparent that he could be the Anti-Christ incarnate and possesses the evil powers to stop anyone who stands in his way.
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as Robert Thorn
as Kathy Thorn
as Keith Jennings
as Mrs. Baylock
as Father Brennan
as Father Spiletto
as Dr. Becker
as Young Nanny
as Mr. Horton
as Mrs. Horton
as Thorn's Aide
as Thorn's Second Aide
as First Nun
as Secret Service Man
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Critic Reviews for The Omen
Richard Donner directs more for speed than mood, but there are a few good shocks.
This apocalyptic movie mostly avoids physical gore to boost its relatively unoriginal storyline with suspense, some excellent acting (especially from Warner and Whitelaw), and a very deft, incident-packed script.
A member of the Exorcist family, it is a dreadfully silly film, which is not to say that it is totally bad.
As long as movies like The Omen are merely scaring us, they're fun in a portentous sort of way.
Audience Reviews for The Omen
One of the more iconic and popular horror films of recent history, "The Omen" takes all the unholiest of attitudes towards horror and amplifies them to compound scares. Not only is this film scary at times and freakish at others, but when you watch the premise, the reveals, and deaths, they hold significant weight. Several days later certain parts of this film roll around in your brain and you keep working out its genius. Much of what makes this film so engrossing seems to be the premise. An ambassador (Peck) and his wife (Remick) are told their child is stillborn, and the husband is prompted into adopting another child who has become orphaned. The child, Damien (Stephens), is actually the son of Satan and thanks to a prophecy, a priest knows to tell him that he must murder the child before he himself and everyone he loves, are killed. Of course the ambassador finds all of this ridiculous, but eventually goes on a mighty quest with a photographer (Warner) to find the truth before it's too late. There are also protectors to the child, including a satanic nanny (Whitelaw) and a Rottweiler who remains the boy's terrifying hellhound. Harvey Stephens as Damien is quite creepy, taking direction from Richard Donner quite well and giving a performance that eerily transcends any other demonic child in horror film history. His and Peck's performances greatly overshadow almost everyone else's, because they remain the hero and villain within the story. It's gruesome to think a child has to be killed, or that a child has that evil nested within themselves. Even at the very end you're not sure how everything will work itself out, and that is difficult since horror films are usually so cut and dry. This is a masterpiece of horror, and even today has some moments that will make you question whether you believe in the devil.
A man and his wife discover that their adopted son is the spawn of Satan.
In this addition to the genre of Devil movies, all the normal conventions appear: religion is imbued with a mysterious ethos, evil is perceived as something outside man, and sex and science are demonized (although, it must be said that this facet of devil movies is less pronounced in The Omen than in other films).
All this is not to say that The Omen is a bad film, just that it works to normalize a controversial cultural ideology. On the contrary, the film is well-made. The plot unfolds deftly, with few heavy-handed "must-happens," and Gregory Peck gives a strong performance. Richard Donner's direction is clever: most of the evil occurs around Damien rather than because of him, and this reduces most audiences' reticence about seeing a child involved in violence.
Overall, this film remains a classic in the Devil movie genre and is well worth a critical eye.
The 70's brought us a fair amount of ghoulish classics. The masterpiece of all those movies was definitely The Exorcist. Pretty much born only out of the critical and financial success of that movie, The Omen fails to live up to it's esteemed status. When you compare it to horror cinema of recent years which consists mostly of dumbly unrestrained slashers and the wave of soul crushingly boring "found footage" movies you really recognise the strong performances of the veteran actors and the skill being executed in Richard Donner's inventively scary direction. He manages to produce great tension and cuts down on a lot of gore. But it lacks the unescapable grip and fails to promote the same sheer terror and audience vulnerability that The Exorcist did. I never felt in danger, neither did I find it particularly scary. I didn't jump at any point, or care what happened to the possessed child who is at the centre of the film. It's technically well polished, there isn't anything unspeakably awful about it. I've seen a lot worse recently, but in the end the plot, characters and mystery is taken from another film. I might have enjoyed it more if it tried harder to be something vaguely unique. If you plan on giving into the hype with the convenience of not having seen horror films previously with satanic demon children your likely to have a real blast. But I have, and so have many other cineastes who love watching Gregory Peck stab evil in the chest. It's unremarkable, but not without merit.
The Omen Quotes
|Robert:||: [ignoring Brennan's warnings about Damien] ... Now, I've heard you. I want you to hear me: I *never* want to see you again.|
|Father Brennan:||...You'll see me in *hell*, Mr. Thorn. There, we will share out our sentence.|
|Mrs. Baylock:||It's all for you, Damien! It's all for you!|
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