The Omen


Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

The Omen remake
"Unfortunately some scissors-happy imp must have got into the editing room and snipped out the best bits."

Few movie remakes work as straight carbon copies of the originals. If you want to see the same film again just get the DVD, not more cinema tickets. To be successful a remake should not only stand comparison to its ancestor, but also bring innovation and up-to-date resonance for the already-informed audience.

Hitchcock knew this when he made his second, more stylish The Man Who Knew Too Much and De Palma's Scarface brutally re-tailored Al Capone for the cocaine Eighties and Cronenberg teleported B-movie The Fly up to speed with romance and gore. Now, Hollywood is robbing the grave of 1976's The Omen, the classic horror thriller that more than stands the test of time and ever-diminishing sequels. What has this new version got to offer?

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A diabolically gimmicky 6/6/06 release date for one thing. Scared? Me, neither.

The story of Liev Schreiber's American ambassador slowly realising his young son Damien is the Devil incarnate is exactly the same, as are all the travels, dogs and deaths along the way. Fair chunks of dialogue are lifted, too, while the rest remains a bit laboured. Gregory Peck carried it off better.

Satisfactorily spooked mother Julia Stiles, creepy nanny Mia Farrow and David Thewlis' mildly shambolic photographer all grapple with the script, while the real star is not-so-cute Seamus Davey Fitzpatrick. His near silent Damien, with the requisite demonic stare and menacing stillness, is spot on.

However, troubled priests Pete Postlethwaite and Michael Gambon must have bet on whose hamming could chew up the most scenery, with Gambon coming on like comic relief. It's deftly stylised scenery, though, with lights against darks and infernal red continually clashing with religious iconography.

Unfortunately some scissors-happy imp must have got into the editing room and snipped out the best bits. The classic scenes and even the climax feel disjointed, badly handled and over too quickly, dispelling any tension that the sub-Ave Satani score could muster.

Saving grace comes with references to contemporary events, such as 9/11 and Palestine, as satanic prophecies. This Omen emphasises political connections throughout and again suggests the Devil will wage his war from the White House. The original's still the better film all round, but the disturbing resonance with the monolithic Bush administration here stands up well on its own, and that is pretty horrifying.

Reviewed on: 07 Jun 2006
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The Omen packshot
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
Jennie Kermode ***1/2
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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The Omen