Movie Reviews 75 – The Omen (1976)

When The Exorcist became to top grossing film in 1973, it reopened the doors for horror to reclaim a place in mainstream cinema. That of course led to a plethora of horror movies just trying to take home a piece of the pie. Most were imminently forgettable, some were decent, but it wasn’t until the Omen came along in 1976 that another bona fide horror could truly be called another hit. (OK, Jaws, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Young Frankenstein all had box office success in the interim, but those were not ‘straight up’ horrors, if you know what I mean).

The idea that a mere child could be embodiment of Satan himself was pretty cool and having Hollywood heavyweight Gregory Peck as the star was all most people really needed to go watch the movie. All of sudden the triple digit “666” was known around the globe as the “Number of the Beast”.

But aside from the dastardly and deadly antics that the little kid put on show for us, the movie actually has a lot more going for it. For one thing, the fact that the movie starts off with a nefarious switcheroo to have the kid fall into the family of a prominent Washington ambassador lays the foundation that this kid is being prepped for the big times (a progression hinted at in the final scene and promulgated in the sequels). Another indisputable fact is that the tone throughout the movie is demonstrably more demonic by Jerry Goldsmith’s acclaimed Gothic score, something that became a staple for horror scores to follow for years thereafter.

While there is no doubt in the audience’s mind that little Damien is evil, one can only be sympathetic to the plight of his parents who have to accept this and then take action against their own child. And that aspect is one that just intensifies the squirminess the audience is put through.

David Warner puts in a good performance as the photojournalist who puts all the pieces together and tries to convince poppa Peck that the kid has got to go. But can a father really go through with it?

Thankfully, The Omen has stood the test of time and there is really no need to watch the recent remake. However, it did come with the Complete Omen Box set I bought, so I guess I’ll get around to it soon enough.

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