The Omen

Amy Huck as the nanny obeying Damien's orders in The Omen

 

 

 

Thirty years on, a pointless remake of the film that put quite a few bums on seats in 1976. Back then Gregory Peck was playing the American diplomat slowly realising he’s bringing up the spawn of Satan, and Lee Remick (an expert in lip-tightening panic) was the wife. This time Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles have the dubious honour. In spite of the disaster movie craze and the example of the late career of Bette Davis, it was still quite unusual in the mid-1970s for a big star like Peck to appear in a horror movie – genre was for wimps. But the studios were realising that the likes of Jaws were changing everything, and Fox had been caught out badly by the success Warners had had with The Exorcist. The Omen was their attempt to cash in.
Fox are obviously hoping to cash in again in this era of remakes – Psycho, Texas Chainsaw, Dawn of the Dead and so on. This Omen is relatively faithful to the original in terms of plot – the son of Satan is hoping to bring about Armageddon by becoming president of the USA, thus fulfilling some prophesy in the Book of Revelation, or something – things do get a bit garbled at this point. But The Omen’s big problem is that this style of horror movie just doesn’t work any more – the Catholic church these days looks more like a global brand than a repository of ancient Satan-busting wisdom. What’s more, director John Moore just doesn’t have the understanding of pace that Richard Donner (who directed in 1976) had. But the support cast keeps interest fairly high – Pete Postlethwaite as the urgent priest, David Thewlis as a paparazzo whose photos also provide an urgent warning, Michael Gambon as an urgent demonologist. Plus, rubs hands with glee, Mia Farrow as the child’s satanic nanny. And why not, Rosemary’s Baby was the first Omen’s obvious rip-off point.
© Steve Morrissey 2006

 

The Exorcist – at Amazon

 

 

10 Things I Hate About You

The Cast of 10 Things I Hate About You

 

 

Apparently if you’re drunk enough when you say the title of this film, it sounds like, “The Taming Of The Shrew”. Whatever. When it came out in 1999 it tapped into two of the big trends in the cinema of the time: the high-school drama (Cruel Intentions, Election, Rushmore) and adaptations of the Bard (Elizabeth, Shakespeare In Love). It’s a teen tangle in Shakespeare country that manages to be both reasonably faithful (depending on how you define “reasonably” and “faithful”) to Shakespeare’s original, but not so heavy-handedly that the average audience member will nod off. It also managed to cast two hot properties of the time – Julia Stiles, who at one point seemed to be fighting Kirsten Dunst for total domination of the teen market. And new Australian import Heath Ledger, who actually only became a hot property after this, his Hollywood debut, in spite of the fact that his American accent starts to wander off towards the Southern hemisphere around halfway through. Like anyone was worrying about that.

The plot – the school’s coolest guy sets out to woo the girl with the most acidic mouth, to win a bet. No points for guessing where this plot is going. But it’s all about the ride rather than the destination and though the scenery is charming, and the fellow travellers (including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gabrielle Union and Alison Janney) great company, it’s really the technical display of sheer acting oomph by Stiles that sets this sexy, smart and cool high school rom-com apart.

© Steve Morrissey 2013

 

10 Things I Hate about You – at Amazon