Monday, January 24, 2011

The Omen

It seems like a lot of the most famous horror films from 40-50 years ago dealt heavily with Christian themes in their stories, while more recently they have worked with whatever they feel like making up. You still see your share of possession movies and stuff like that, but I think we're less focused on the religious stuff in general. It doesn't make a big difference in any case. The Omen seems to owe a lot to The Exorcist, involving a parent dealing with the possibility that the devil is involved with their child in some way. I thought it was slightly more effective as horror, although not to the point where I would exactly call it scary either. There are a few pretty suspenseful scenes, but the movie's most dramatically scary moments are either too famous to be shocking now or just funny seeing them in 2011. Still, the film has its creepy bits and still works as a decent story the same way that The Exorcist did.

Gregory Peck is looking pretty old, playing the new US Ambassador to England. He moves to a nice mansion with his wife and son Damien, but things take a strange turn when the kid's nanny publicly commits suicide after getting stared down by a dog. The movie slowly ratchets up the mystery while more and more strange things start happening around Damien, at the same time that a priest warns Peck of the danger his son represents and a photographer notices some curiosities of his own. The kid who plays Damien is well-suited for the role, able to come off as creepy without trying too hard and selling the idea of what appears to be a normal child that happens to have the blood of Satan in him. Unfortunately they don't quite use him to his potential, as a lot of running time is spent on the admittedly somewhat intriguing questions around his birth and how can be stopped rather than really selling him as the embodiment of evil born on Earth. It won't frighten modern audiences the way some other stuff will, but it seems like it will hold up as a watchable movie a lot longer than many of those. At the very least, it still works enough now to make the remake from a few years ago look totally unnecessary, even though I haven't seen it. Pretty good original score, too.

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