Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, Harvey Stephens

Directed by: Richard Donner

Story: When his wife Katherine's pregnancy ends in a stillbirth in a Rome hospital,
U.S. Diplomat Robert Thorn adopts another baby, whose mother died. Damien
thrives as a normal child until, at his fifth birthday party, his nanny mysteriously
dies; Father Brennan also dies after warning Thorn that he has adopted Lucifer's
son. Thorn's fears escalate when a photographer shows him pictures from Damien's
party with marks suggesting how the nanny and Brennan would die. Thorn seeks
out an exorcist who confirms Damien's identity and tells Thorn that the only
solution is to kill his adopted son.


Review:

From the eternal sea he rises. Creating armies on either shore. Turning man against
his brother. Until man exists no more. These words are taken from the book of
Revelations which tell of the signs of the coming of the Anti-christ. You know the
number, you know the mark and you know that when he rises through the world of
politics nothing will ever be the same again. Richard Donner's classic 1976 feature
the Omen shows you exactly this and much more. In 1973 audiences were stunned
and frightened by a movie called The Exorcist. The movie which dealt with demonic
possession and other biblical dark events. Not only did the movie scare audiences to
death but it remains today as one of the greatest and most well known films in the
genre of horror. When movies like this hit it big at the box office you start to see
more films like it within the next few years. I'm unsure if audiences were aware of it
at the time but there was another movie to be in the making which would deal with
almost the same topic. Richard Donner directed a movie which was originally titled  
'The Birthmark',  it was the story about the beginning to the rise of the Anti-christ.
Later the titled changed from Birthmark, to The Anti-Christ and then to the title we
all know so well, the Omen.

In the Omen we fallow Robert Thorn, an American who is later to be appointed
ambassador of Great Britain. When his wife Katherine gives birth to a stillborn child
he is given the option of adopting a new one the very same day. Without the
knowledge of who the parents are he agrees to take the child as his own without
breaking the truth to his wife. Robert and Katherine raise young Damien as their
own. Feeding him, bathing him and giving him all the love in the world. Five years go
by and everything seems normal. Up until Damien's fifth birthday where weird grisly
deaths began to occur. While this is happening Robert starts to receive warnings
about the evil that is to come, and his wifes new pregnancy. It is revealed later that
Robert is literally raising the Anti-christ. Damien is the child who is prophesized to
bring hell on earth. Bent on stopping the child Robert uses the help of a
photographer to piece together the puzzles and figure out a way to end it all.

When it comes to stories about good and evil the bible is a great source. Religion
plays a huge part in these kind of movies whether you may think it or not. The
Omen is bascially an adaptation to the written prophecy of the Anti-christ. Such a
strong topic makes for the perfect horror film and the Omen is a few notes shy from
being perfect. Although the film was never meant to be a "horror" picture it was  
received and looked as one from audiences all over. The Omen is a well made movie
with a great story and a lot of suspense. It doesn't have the flashy scares or gross
out dark humor which many previous movies had at that time. It's the films plot and
turn of the events that make it a landmark and favorite to audiences everywhere.
The Omen sucks you in from the very beginning and you stick with the story up
until the very end. The first ten minutes of the movie deals with Robert and
Katherine raising their adopted child. It's a nice start which helps build up tension as
it dramatically changes after the first death scene. The rest of the movie isn't
pleasant or nice. In the movie we are introduced to a small cast of dark characters,
like Mrs. Baylock who becomes the new nanny who looks after young Damien. Not
only does she take care of Damien but she also protects him as you would with
something of great importance. Keeping him safe and away from any threats. It's
characters like these that make the movie scary and worth while.

The characters are all there along with the story, but what worked most for me was
the level of suspense the movie had. I've seen this film so many times but for some
reason I always fall for the shocks and suspense. Each death sequence is different
and grisly in its own way. It doesn't get repetitive and it's all rewarding. The Omen
isn't the kind of horror movie to watch for a body count. You don't to cheer for the
bad guys, you fear them and it's a classic story about the on going struggle
between good and evil. Everything in the Omen works well and it's not all because of
the actors or the story in general. Jerry Goldsmith's musical score in the Omen is a
grand pleasure on its own. If it were not for the music the movie wouldn't be what it
is. The score not only sets the mood but it also keeps you on the edge of your
seat. The music plays a huge part with the success and without it the movie
wouldn't be frightening or suspenseful. The cinematography is also another one of
the movies pleasures. It was noted that director Richard Donner talked
cinematographer Gilbert Taylor into coming out of retirement to shoot the Omen. I
thought that was a wise and smart choice.

Gregory Peck has done some great movies in his lifetime. I know that I'm not alone
when I say that his performance in the Omen isn't his best. I'm not saying his
performance was bad or anything like that be he's done much better work before.
It's understandable when you keep in mind that he hadn't worked on a movie for
five years before acting in the Omen. Other than Peck it was the performance of
young Harvey Stephens that captured audiences and scared the living daylights out
of them. You don't see Harvey doing too much today but his role in the Omen will
never be forgotten. Sure there are other threatening characters in the movie like the
nanny and the guard dog, but none of them can compare to young Damien Thorn.
The movie is surrounded and built through this character, fearing who he is and
what he is destined to achieve. The behind the scenes story of The Omen certainly
has it scares as well. Having changed its title from the Antichrist to the Birthmark,
the movie fell victim to a sinister curse which is a horror story on its own.

Stories of good versus evil just never seem to get old and looking back at it now I
can see why the Omen is such a powerful movie. If this isn't in your horror collection
then your collection is not complete. If you haven't seen the Omen then by all
means please pick it up and watch it. The Omen is a landmark in the horror genre
and goes right up there with all the other big names genre films. It's not a movie
filled with dumb characters or masked murderers, instead you are faced with a much
more threatening evil. What makes the movie so great is that the most feared
character in it is a young child who is unable to care for himself. If that doesn't
sound creepy then you really need to see this. The Omen is a movie filled with great
heart pounding suspense and characters that hold their own. The story is familiar
because the idea for it comes straight from the holy book. I would put this movie in
any recommended list for it is a horror movie that everyone should see. It's built
highly on story and suspense which makes for a wonderful and horrifying thrill ride.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Overall: 8/10
Genres: Horror, Mystery,
Thriller

Rated: R

Country: UK

Year: 1976

Runtime: 111 minutes

Studio: 20th Century Fox

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Online since: February 20th, 2006
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Review done by: Nightmare Child
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