Years after the events of the first film, Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) has been raised by his uncle Richard Thorn’s (William Holden) family; Richard being the brother of the late father of Damien, shot down whilst trying to stab his son, the Antichrist, dead. Damien is enrolled with his cousin at a military academy, and it is here, on the cusp of his thirteenth birthday, that he begins to discover these strange powers he has. As always, his real daddy, Satan, has agents put in place to help guide and protect Damien, and in this film these include various killer crows and Sergeant Neff (Lance Henriksen), who eventually tells Damien just who he really is. Damien is frightened by the news but soon comes to accept it, the evil in him being too powerful to deny. Meanwhile, various corporate espionage shenanigans are going on with Richard’s company and these disparate plots dovetail together to convince Richard that his late brother was right, Damien is the son of Satan, and he must be put down. Can Richard stop Damien or will the Devil get his due?
I have to say, my memories of this film weren’t very good. I always thought it was stiff and boring, with the military school stuff particularly dull. But on re-watch, I have to say, Damien: Omen II is far superior to its parent film. In comparison, this one moves. It has many more deaths (drownings, train-smashing a body, cerebral crushing), some of them spectacular enough to match the best moments of the first movie. The story is more interesting, watching Damien come to grips with who he is and what his place in the universe just might be. And watching the Doubting Thomas’ in his family come to realize just who they’re dealing with is a distinct pleasure. Mostly, I just cared more about pre-teen Damien than little boy Damien, and the cast around him are great actors that elicit sympathy from the audience. Here are basic, hard-working, feet-to-the-ground realists, confronted with an intrusive, wild supernatural reality. And did I mention the deaths? Oh, man, the woman getting her eyes pecked out by a killer crow and then run over by a semi was deliriously fun. And the guy who gets cut in half by a falling cable while he’s stuck in an elevator is a show-stopper, and should be way more famous than it is. I think it tops the beheading in the first film by miles. The only thing that drags this movie down somewhat is the corporate backstory. It’s convoluted and doesn’t really add much except to take up running time. But that’s a quibble. Everything else is pretty damned good.
When people talk about the rare sequel being better than the original, this is one that should get mentioned more. It’s no masterpiece of horror, but it is damned good, it knows its audience, and it has some audacious moments that are bloody as hell. Damien: Omen II ups the ante in all the right ways, and doubles down on the Satanic delights.