What a Dull Omen!
Ambassador Thorn (Gregory Peck) has a child born dead in an Italian hospital, but there is a priest that helps him out, offering to give him a male child substitute that was also just born but the mother died in childbirth. The kid has no family so no one would ever know. Thorn takes him up on his offer, making the worst mistake of his life. Turns out the kid, who they name Damian, is actually the son of Satan, and a whole host of maleficent things start to brew around the Thorn family. A priest comes to warn Thorn and gets struck down dead. A photographer starts investigating and soon he and Thorn are back in Italy, and then the Middle East, trying to figure out what’s going on and how to stop it. There’s a bunch of yada-yada about seven sacred daggers and how they must be used to kill Damian. The photog gets killed in a spectacular way and Thorn determines he must murder his own son. After a protracted battle with the evil nanny, he gets Damian and hauls him into a church, where he’s going to do the deal. He’s ready to plunge a knife into the boy when the police arrive, guns drawn. Can Thorn kill the spawn of Satan before the cops can stop him? Well, they made a host of sequels, so you tell me.
The Omen was the last of the classic Hollywood triptych of Satanic movies, following Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. For me, it has always been the least of these. I’ve liked it just fine but it never sticks with me and I never warm to it. The movie always leaves me cold. I decided to give it and the sequels another try. To be honest, I think even less of Omen now than I did before. It is bloated and really quite full of itself. It never misses an opportunity to show how important it is, to wag its gravitas in your face. The pacing is glacial. I don’t mind a slow movie, but good lord, when they get into the heart of the matter, when they’re finding out where Damian came from and what to do about it, my heart should have been racing. Instead, they plod along and the movie follows suit. There are some great moments in the film. “All for you Damian,” with the first nanny hanging herself, is beyond classic. It’s awesome. And the pane of glass decapitation is still awfully cool, even though it’s obviously a dummy head. Ballsy and wild. I also think that the reveal of Damian’s true mother’s bones, those of a jackal, was terrifying and quite twisted and took a lot of guts. The other set-pieces are just fine, but don’t really do much to inspire.
All in all, The Omen is a decent film but really doesn’t do much for me. I’ve tried to love it like others do, but I can’t get there. I think a lot of it has to do with the characters; I don’t really care for them. In Rosemary and the Exorcist, we get people we can relate to, people we want to see come through alive. In The Omen, it’s all surface-level. I never once have much sympathy for Thorn or his wife because they’re never presented as humans. They are simply levers pulled to tell a story. Only at the end, when Damian cries out “Daddy” to keep his father from killing him, does any kind of emotional connection happen, and by then it is far too late. The Omen is an okay movie with a couple of really great scenes, some spooky shots, a cool soundtrack, and I’m afraid that’s all.