Directed by Richard Donner
Written by David Seltzer
Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, and Harvey Stephens
Robert and Katherine Thorn seem to have it all. They are happily married and he is the US Ambassador to Great Britain, but they want more than to have children. When Katharine has a stillborn child, Robert is approached by a priest at the hospital who suggests that they take a healthy newborn whose mother has just died in childbirth. Without telling his wife he agrees. After relocating to London, strange events – and the ominous warnings of a priest – lead him to believe that the child he took from that Italian hospital is evil incarnate. Written by garykmcd
The Omen isn’t messing around. It’s a movie about the child Anti-Christ after all. There was a multitude of horror movies dealing with Satanism after the hugely popular The Exorcist shocked most moviegoers two years earlier. Picking up the Bible and plunging into the Book of Revelation/end zone, Selzer and Donner introduce the Thorn family, portrayed by Peck and Remick. Robert Thorn has just become a new father and US Ambassador to Great Britain. Reluctantly, but attentively, Thorn begins to recognize there is something different about his son. People begin to die around Damien after a priest issues him a dire warning. A curious photographer begins to notice strange photographic anomalies and volunteers to unearth the truth with the help of Thorn. Peck’s performance is A+ material. You can feel his slow unraveling process coming to fruition.
First of all, young Stephens is completely terrifying as Damien, a child born of a jackal, and spawned from Satan. It’s beyond me how he delivered those cold evil eyes from such a young age. The kid seems to be comfortable that his mere presence has spooked or enraged every animal at the zoo. (his only animal friends are actual Hell Hounds) Everyone remembers the visceral reaction he experiences on his way to his first church service. His new nanny, Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw), warned his mother that Damien wasn’t ready for such heady things at five years old – a treacherous attempt to conceal his secret until it’s no longer possible to ignore. It’s obvious which “agency” sends Blaylock to look after and protect the young tool of Satan.
Everything in The Omen falls into place with ease. The cold setting and sense of gloom almost oozes out of your television screen. Donner filmed the movie utilizing the creepiest possible angles and techniques – at no time is there a visually lacking frame in this movie. Throw in big scares like the unforgettable nanny that hangs herself at Damien’s birthday party, and we have one for the ages. Worst birthday party ever. Then there’s the tricycle scene that will literally make you cringe as it unfolds. Admit it, you’re adding this to your Netflix queue right now.
“Look at me Damien – it’s all for you!”
It only gets better with the death of Father Brennen. Rushing to bring Thorn up to speed guarantees the priest’s demise in a sequence that gives me goosebumps to this day. An ominous storm blows in from nowhere, purposely trailing the priest through the tops of trees, whipping wind and lightning as he flees for refuge. The eventual impalement is sublime. Saving the best for last is one of the first mainstream decapitation scenes (if not the first) featured in a globally distributed film. A horizontal sheet of glass rockets from the back of an out of control truck, catching the victim underneath the chin in a breathtaking slow motion moment. The glass moves with such velocity that the blood-spewing head rotates several times before collapsing on the body and shattered glass.
While not as intense as The Exorcist, The Omen is absolute required viewing for the month of October and nets this site another member for Fister’s Hall of Fame.