The Omen

The Omen

***1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Taking its premise directly from the Book of Revelations, The Omen tells the story of a couple raising a young boy who is apparently destined to grow up to destroy the world. With the original now widely regarded as a classic, this remake attempts to update the tale and set it in the 21st century. The difficulty it faces is that the subject matter and the manner of its presentation are now distinctly old fashioned. In sticking so closely to the style of the original, it is likely to appeal only to those who would be happy to watch an older film anyway, and there's no good reason for them to choose this version in preference. Whilst it is by no means a bad film, it's hard to see why anybody thought this remake necessary.

Despite a different interpretation of the signs presaging Armageddon (ironically highlighting just how many things have the potential to be interpreted that way) and a few ironic comments on modern American politics, there's little to make the new adaptation stand apart from the original - haircut aside, even the child in the central role looks much the same.

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The imagery, which the original made famous, seems to have become as indispensable and iconic as the ancient religious imagery on which the film depends. Younger viewers, however, may find the central couple more accessible as characters. Liev Schreiber, in particular, manages to convince as a confused modern man, despite the limitations placed on him by the form of the narrative. David Thewlis is reliable as ever as the photojournalist who helps him and the relationship between the two men is well played, vital as it becomes to the father's motivation.

The casting of Mia Farrow, as the Satanic nanny ("I have nearly 40 years experience looking after children") is a cute nod to Rosemary's Baby, but she's a little too overtly creepy to make the role work - in this paranoid age it's harder to see why a mother would risk leaving her child with someone she knows so little about. Though messages now arrive by email, nobody seems to be using the Internet for research, despite it being an obvious tool. Other technological changes, like mobile phones, are underexplored and nobody seems to have noticed that one of the methods of murder used in the film, neat though it is, wouldn't actually work.

Despite these problems, there's plenty about The Omen (2006) that is worth watching. The cinematography is beautiful, with wind and rainswept landscapes particularly impressive. The music works well, without being overwhelming. Early on in the film, it's easy to believe that nothing supernatural is going on, with the three leads providing a solid portrait of day-to-day family life, which helps the viewer to understand the father's crisis of conscience later on.

Little hints that something disturbing is happening build up well, though the film never really grips the way it should. Too many of its scares are of the bursting-a-paper-bag variety and at one point it descends into a pitiful reliance on prosthetic gore. Nevertheless, it is quite effective in presenting the supernatural to a cynical modern audience.

It would be a very impressive piece of work if somebody else hadn't done it better already.

Reviewed on: 06 Jun 2006
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The Antichrist rises again to terrify a new generation and bring about the Apocalypse... now
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Read more The Omen reviews:

Hotcow ****1/2
Paul Griffiths ***
Leanne McGrath **

Director: John Moore

Writer: David Seltzer

Starring: Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Gambon, Seamus Davey Fitzpatrick

Year: 2006

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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If you like this, try:

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose
The Omen