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