The Omen, although a remake, may be a cinematic first – a film whose entire existence can be attributed to a date. The three 6’s for which the series of films (starting with 1976’s original of the same name) are so well-known are given prominent placement not only in this film, but in the blitzing marketing campaign. This gimmick is only a microcosm of the film itself, which is virtually a shot-for-shot remake of the original and about as unnecessary as horror remakes can be (save Gus Van Sant’s appalling remake of Psycho). This is largely jump-scare horror that is tailor-made for a big opening week and then a prompt trip to the Wal-Mart bargain bin.
For those who haven’t seen or heard about movies for the past thirty years or so, the film chronicles the amazingly bad luck of Robert (Schreiber) and Katherine (Stiles) Thorn. As the film opens, Katherine gives birth to a child who dies soon after. Robert is told of the tragedy, but he can’t bring himself to tell Katherine because of the guilt she would have to endure. This is where the infamous Damien (Davey-Fitzpatrick) enters the picture, as he takes the place of the dead child that Katherine really thinks is hers. As years pass Damien never really forms any kind of connection with his parents, and as his sixth birthday approaches strange, seemingly supernatural events begin to take place. The Thorns, under the wisdom and advice of numerous religious figures, begin to believe that Damien may be the devil incarnate.
Screenwriter David Seltzer may have topped John Hughes’ narrative recycling job for Home Alone 2 with this. To call this version an “update” is stretching it since virtually every scene is recreated to a tee. Because of this you’d think director John Moore, who I’m still in the process of trying to forgive for 2001’s Behind Enemy Lines, would try and mold the film a bit and give it a touch all his own. This is not the case as he drives the film through several Final Destination-style death sequences and a whole lot of puttering through standard-issue jump scares and religious mumbo-jumbo.
But the real problem arises when you put the film in perspective to the original’s age. Scary little kids in films are a given these days – a far cry from 1976. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, while slightly ominous with his messy jet-black hair and blank stare, just isn’t very frightening. He has next to no lines and his sly smile and grimace is more likely to draw laughs than actual apprehension. It’s not his fault; it’s just how audiences react these days because we have been bombarded with pale, evil children.
The rest of the performances are suitable, but hardly memorable. Liev Schreiber is clearly no Gregory Peck, but he at least brings some depth to Robert Thorn. Julia Stiles is run through the emotional gamut as Katherine, but there is a slight immaturity (likely age) on Stiles’ part that keeps the character from being completely convincing. Mia Farrow actually runs away with the show as Mrs. Baylock, who is actually the hellish protector of Damien. Her non-chalant demeanor is the creepiest thing about this film.
Regardless, The Omen is a wash just like so many of these unnecessary, cash-cow remakes. Just like The Da Vinci Code, The Omen does not seem like a summer film, but, oh yeah, it’s all about June 6, 2006! It may be 6.6.06, but the date you should remember is 6.20.06, which is when the original is re-released as a Collector’s Edition DVD.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Length: 110 Minutes
Rating: R for disturbing violent content, graphic images and some language.
Theatrical Release: June 6, 2006
Directed by: John Moore
Written by: David Seltzer
Cast: Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Michael Gambon