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The Omen - Review

Seamus Fitzpatrick in The Omen

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

JOHN Moore, director of The Omen remake, believes that the film’s exploration of evil is now more relevant than ever given the devastating events – political, natural and man-made – that have come to shape our world.

He therefore set about delivering a new version of the story that gave its characters and situations a more contemporary feel.

But despite setting proceedings against the emotive context of recent headlines such as 9/11 and the Asian Tsunami, The Omen feels like a pointless remake that has lost its ability to chill.

Much of this is due to the fact that the director has chosen to replay the film virtually shot for shot, so that the fate of just about every character remains the same, thereby depriving it of any genuine surprises.

The story picks up as US diplomat Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) unintentionally adopts the AntiChrist in the form of a child named Damien (Seamus Fitzpatrick) after his own son dies at birth.

He must then find a way to halt the rising tide of evil as everyone around him – from his wife, Katherine (Julia Stiles), to an inquisitive photographer (David Thewlis) – becomes threatened by Damien’s power.

First released in 1976, Richard Donner’s original was a genuinely creepy affair, well acted by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick and backed by a memorable, Oscar-winning score from Jerry Goldsmith.

Moore’s remake, however, feels obvious, tame and hammily performed.

As the US diplomat at the centre of proceedings, Schreiber is one of the only cast members who appears to be taking things seriously. But the likes of Pete Postlethwaite and Michael Gambon are outrageously over the top as priests caught up in the evil conspiracy, while Mia Farrow plays Damien’s nanny like some sort of twisted Mary Poppins and only succeeds in generating more sniggers than chills.

Newcomer Fitzpatrick, as Damien, may look creepy initially but he, too, lacks the ability to appear as consistently unnerving as Harvey Stephens in the original.

Moore’s decision to include scenes of recent disasters such as the collapse of the World Trade Center and the aforementioned Tsunami as evidence of the approaching return of the AntiChrist also feels exploitative given the questions surrounding the validity of more worthy projects such as Paul Greengrass’ United 93.

Surely using such key events as a springboard for entertainment that’s purely designed to generate big box office is much more of a cash-in than attempts to explore the issue sensitively?

The Omen is therefore a huge disappointment that offers little or nothing for horror fans to enjoy except for a few elaborate deaths and one or two jumps involving twisted dream sequences.

All of which leads me to believe that it is less a movie experience than it is a great marketing opportunity given its timely release date of 6/6/06 – that’s the cleverest thing about it!

Read our interview with director, John Moore
Read our interview with Liev Schreiber

Certificate: 15
Running time: 110 minutes