The Omen

The Devil Says

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I don’t have a son. Or a child of any kind. I want that clear. And I’m willing to take a paternity test at any time to prove it. So, since there is no truth to that notion, The Omen isn’t an apocalyptic tale of the coming of the Antichrist. It’s a movie about two psychologically disturbed parents who never come to grips with the death of their son, becoming paranoid and blaming their poor, innocent, adoptive child. Sure, the film claims that the mother never knew about the switch, but sub-consciously, she knew. The Omen isn’t a horror story at all, but a dramatic thriller. That’s what the producers told Gregory Peck (about it being a thriller, not about there being no Antichrist), and I don’t think they were lying to him.

The basics: When the Thorns’ child dies at birth, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) illegally adopts a newborn from a shady priest as a replacement. Several years later, as they all hang out in London in great luxury, people start dying, weird music starts playing, and a psychotic priest (Patrick Troughton) warns Robert that his son is really the son of The Devil (lies! All lies!). Robert teams up with a photographer (David Warner) who keeps screwing up his prints (and then figures that means evil is at work—that’s not evil; that’s just poor darkroom skills) to find out the truth. It’s no surprise that their search leads them to more unusual death. It’s all done with the utmost seriousness (yet more reason to believe this is a movie about disturbed parents; when has Hollywood ever taken horror seriously?) and a fair amount of style.

Yes, the whole thing is a pack of lies, but it’s a well made pack of lies, with excellent acting across the board. It’s also director Richard Donner at his finest.  The Omen is tense, it’s engaging, and it’s got great music. It’s a lot easier to believe the supernatural stuff when the score backs up every sign of evil. I can’t say there’s a deep message here, except maybe you need more strident adoption regulations. And nothing is funny or sexy (though Lee Remick makes for a hot wife for sixty-year-old Peck). The only sins in sight involve death, and they aren’t murder by The Devil, no matter what Thorn thinks. Sometimes, people just get impaled. Hey, it happens. But they are exciting deaths. The Final Destination folks must have watched The Omen ten times before they started their own mouse-trap screenplay.

The Omen was copied many times (and recently remade), but nothing touches the original. It’s a film that’s easy to get lost in. And while it takes itself very seriously, just be sure you don’t once the lights go on.

Sins (What does this mean?)

Pride Hmmm.  I'll say no and let it go at that.
Sloth Nothing.
Avarice The Thorn's a rich and have a lot of nice stuff, but I wouldn't say that makes a statement of any kind.
Gluttony Nothing.
Aesthetics Some pretty buildings.  Generally well-framed shots.
Surrogate Cruelty A very dramatic hanging.  A man is impaled.  A glass sheet...  OK, enough details.  There are a lot of cool deaths.
Thought Nothing.
Humor Can there be negative humor?
Lust Nothing.

Related Film

Damian: The Omen II
Omen III: The Final Conflict
Omen IV: The Awakening
The Omen (2006 Remake)


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Film Info

Producer: Harvey Bernhard

Director: Richard Donner

Writer: David Seltzer

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Cast: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw, Harvey Stephens, Patrick Troughton

Runtime: 111 min




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