32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
This is a decent re-make of a first class, gothic chiller. It is not, however, as creepy as the 1976 original, which starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, as it lacks Jerry Goldsmith's pulse pounding musical score. It also has a younger cast that lacks the gravitas of the original. Still, the film is still worth viewing, if only to see how it fares in comparison to the original, especially as the screenplay used appears to be the original one.
Katherine (Julia Stiles) and Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) are a young, affluent American couple. Katherine is pregnant and, while in Italy, gives birth to an ostensibly stillborn boy, a fact that is kept from her. Knowing how much his wife wanted the baby and the difficulty that she had in conceiving, Robert agrees to have the dead baby supplanted by a living newborn whose mother died in child birth, keeping this information from Katherine. They name this baby Damien.
All goes well for the prosperous Thorn family, until Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) turns five. A series of dramatic, unusual events begin to occur around the Thorns, all seemingly stemming from Damien. Well guarded by a somewhat creepy nanny (Mia Farrow), there are those who would believe him to be the Antichrist. By the time that Katherine and Robert begin to realize who Damien may truly be, their lives are out of control. With the aid of an inquisitive photographer, a repentant priest, and an mysterious man who holds the key to the destruction of the Antichrist, Robert Thorn becomes a man with a mission. Will Damien let him complete that mission? Watch this movie and find out.
Both Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles give credible performances, though they are no Gregory Peck or Lee Remick. Mia Farrow, as the nanny with a diabolical mission, gives a fine and genuinely creepy performance, aided in part by what appears to be a pair of collagen enhanced lips. The rest of the supporting cast is also excellent. While this re-make pales in comparison to the original, it is still enjoyable and worth watching.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2006
A re-make of the original horror classic of 1976, this film offers nothing more than the original film has already given us, besides some admittedly impressive death scenes.
This re-make is far below the standard set by the original film. The acting is stiff and stilted, with Liev Schreiber (as Robert Thorne) giving a thoroughly one-noted performance which proved to be quite frustrating to watch for over two hours. Even when he finds out about the incredibly terrible events that consistently occur throughout the film, Schreiber keeps an indifferent expression on his face. This undoubtedly makes many problems arise; how can the audience get involved in a movie if the actors are unconvincing in their roles? Julia Stiles does well, but she doesn't work in her role as Robert Thorne's wife, but Mia Farrow as Mrs. Baylock gives the film a bit of a spark in an otherwise dull film.
The main thing is, is it scary? Damien is creepy enough, and there are some OK dream sequences that offer a couple of good jump scares. But this is all it offers in scares. The film is basically just a re-shooting of the original scenes, except they lack the energy and tension. There is no sense of foreboding, and it's almost as if the film makers and actors were just bored and wanting to get it over and done with; it's as if they hardly cared about making a good film. What was meant to be a gripping, horrific and intense viewing experience right up to the stunning climax becomes a boring and plodding time, and you just about lose interest in the whole story, and the characters.
Overall, a very disappointing re-make, which begs the question: Why did they re-make it in the first place?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Both Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, and composer Jerry Goldsmith should be turning over in their respective graves at the illogic of making a shot-by-shot, slightly altered lines and situations, remake of the classic 1976 film. Liev Shrieber, assaying the Peck part, seems as though he's asleep throughout the film, only coming to life at the end as his "Richard Thorn" prepares to kill his son. Julia Stiles fares better as wife "Kate," trying to cope with the possibility that the child she's raising may have some sinister motives.
Mia Farrow's "Mrs. Baylock" strays quite a bit from Billie Whitelaw's in the original, by portraying the nanny as "sweetness" and "grandmotherly," revealing her true nature near the film's conclusion.
David Thewlis is no David Warner.
Michael Gambon doesn't do justice to Leo McKern's portrayal in the first film.
And Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick ("Damian") is about as scary as "The Pillsbury Dough Boy."
As far as Goldsmith's Oscar-winning score, it is interpolated during the film's end credits, and snippets can be heard throughout the "softer" scenes of the film.
However, maybe the director would've had more success if he had used Goldsmith's score in its entirety.
Gus Van Sant in his by-the-numbers "Psycho" remake was smart enough to utilize Bernard Herrmann's classic composition.
'Didn't make it a box office smash but made watching it a whole lotta more enjoyable.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2008
I admit that I came to this remake with a bit of bias. The 1976 classic is one of my all-time favorite films. It was more of a psychological thriller than a horror film. This remake has some impressive photography and I did like the added scenes taking place at the Vatican. However, I felt that the original Damien was more effective as an innocent child who didn't fully understand the evil he possessed. In the scene in which Gregory Peck was about to kill him on the altar, one could understand how Robert Thorn could have doubts when Damien looked up at him and pleaded, "Don't Daddy."
This kid was so blatantly evil, it should have been a no-brainer!
And...I hesitate to bring this up, since I've made some mistakes in my own work, but...who was the fact-checker on this film, anyway? When Thorn is told to go to the city of Megiddo, he's told it's "south of Jerusalem."
Nobody on this film had GPS, or at least a map? Megiddo is NORTHWEST of Jerusalem, south of Nazareth!
Author, Chasing the Wind
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2006
For those of you keeping tabs on the slew of remakes invading Hollywood, you can cross another one off your list. "The Omen"--originally released in 1976 and directed by Richard Donner--was a film I found to be quite overblown, the story and characterizations stretched a little too thin to do justice to the idea behind it. Now, thirty years later, we have John Moore's remake. I had my doubts going into the theater because I knew it was reinterpreting something that wasn't very good to begin with. But for whatever reason, this new version works. At least, it works for me. At first I couldn't understand why; this is a very faithful adaptation of a baffling film, and because of that, I expected this to be equally as disappointing.
I have to admit that it was an entertaining reinterpretation. Unfortunately, the story had nothing to do with why I liked it; I think it had more to do with the film's style. It relied on pure atmosphere and mood to convey the impending terror that occurs. There are many moments encased in shadow, most of which are only lit by the occasional flash of lightening. We also get to look inside an open grave in Rome, a scene accentuated by snowy, dismally gray weather. Most importantly, we get subtle yet significant character expressions, most of which come from Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick), the young but not innocent Devil incarnate. There's a moment when he's in a dimly lit kitchen fixing himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When his mother, Katherine (Julia Stiles), enters the room, he gives her one of the creepiest stares I've ever seen a child give.
It also helped that most of the famous scenes from the original were brought back. These include Katherine falling from the upstairs landing, a priest getting impaled, and a nanny who inexplicably hangs herself. ("It's all for you, Damien!" she shouts before jumping from the roof of the Thorns' sprawling London estate. No matter how hard I try, I still can't figure out why she did it or exactly what was all for him.) Even some of Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar winning score finds its way into the remake. I suppose those of you devoted to the original film will find this troublesome, maybe even blasphemous (pardon the pun). When it comes to remakes, there's always been a fine line between a genuine update and an unimaginative rehash. Whether or not "The Omen" actually crosses that line is open for debate.
That's because, despite the new cast and the impressive cinematography, the basic story is exactly the same. It beings when U.S. ambassador to Italy Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) arrives at the hospital to be by his pregnant wife's side (apparently, she went into a rather difficult labor). He runs into Father Spiletto (Giovanni Lombardo Radice) when he arrives, and the priest gives him the bad news: the baby did not survive the delivery and Katherine will most likely never again be able to bear children. This is more than just devastating for Robert, it also puts extra pressure on him; Katherine still doesn't know what's happened, and now, he has to be the one to tell her. But Spiletto gives him another option. Another child was born that day, a boy whose mother tragically died during childbirth. As an added bonus, he has no other living family members. (Does the word "convenient" come to mind?) Robert decides to bring the boy to his wife and tell her that they have a beautiful new son who they name Damien.
Everything goes smoothly for the family over the next five or so years. Then things start to go wrong when Robert's colleague--Ambassador Steven Haines (Marshall Cup)--is killed in an accident involving a leaking gas truck and a discarded cigarette (I'm sure you can imagine what happens). But life goes on, and the Thorns eventually move from Italy to London, taking residence in an obscenely large gothic mansion. For a short while, things continue to go smoothly. Then comes Damien's birthday, an almost gala event that brings scores of children and even larger scores of photographers. It also happens to be the same day when Damien's young nanny (Amy Huck) performs her suicidal stunt.
And that's when everything starts to go downhill. The search for a new nanny yields the unexpected finding of Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow), a seemingly friendly but somehow sinister woman who takes an uncomfortable liking to Damien. She also defies the authority of his parents, especially when it comes to keeping a mean spirited stray dog in the house. Strangely enough, this behavior made her a confusing character. I was bothered by the fact that I never really got a chance to know her; she just appears out of nowhere, and even though we know what her real intentions are, we don't know why she has them. I can only speculate that she belongs to some kind of opposing factor that sent her to the Thorns.
Still, she does add a much-needed dose of tension into the story (especially in the scene when she hand feeds Damien strawberries; talk about tense). But Mrs. Baylock is only the start of the family's problems. Katherine eventually beings to notice certain things about Damien, things that other children don't seem to have to deal with. For one, she realizes that he's never once gotten sick, despite having a typically non-sterile childhood. But more importantly, he's become increasingly detached, always walking around with a blank expression and dark circles under his eyes. When she starts to have nightmares relating to her son, she knows for sure that something is wrong with him.
Robert is noticing some strange things, as well. At one point, he runs into Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), a man who seems desperate to warn him about his son. Bluntly put, he believes Damien to be the son of the Devil, and he makes his case by quoting lyrical Bible passages. As you might expect, Robert is initially unwilling to listen to what Brennan has to say, even when he insists that Katherine is in danger. Only when she takes her bad fall does Robert begin to see the pieces falling into place. It's clear, even to Keith Jennings (David Thewlis), a mysterious photographer who sees the clues in his own pictures. Evil may in fact be living among us in the form of a young boy, and if there's to be any hope of saving humanity, his body and soul have to be destroyed.
Thus begins a borderline obsessive mission, one that leads Robert and Keith from London to Rome and eventually to Isreal. Robert continually questions his own state of mind along the way, torn between believing his son is the Antichrist and the fact that he may be plotting the murder of an innocent young boy (even though we know the truth). In this sense, the writer is obviously skilled in depicting emotional turmoil. But despite the fact that I found the film's strong emotional core enticing, I think what most attracted me to it was its ad campaign (which, I realize, is not exactly meaningful).
I remember seeing the first teaser trailer for it back in the spring, one of the creepiest, tensest teasers I've ever seen. It started with a shot of a dog sitting on a rusty-looking playground carousel. Then the camera slowly pans over to a young boy sitting on a swing set. At the end of the shot, he looks directly into the camera with a simple yet terrifying gaze in his eyes. I also remember seeing plenty of billboards for it. Like the teaser, none of them had the film's title; they only had the date (6-6-06, the cleverness of which faded a long time ago) and a couple of taglines (such as "You have been warned," and "The signs are all around us"). It's probably not a good thing when a film's ads are more impressive than the film itself. I liked this movie at the most superficial level, and because of that I can only recommend it for the way it looks, not for the story it tells.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2007
For those people who saw the original Omen, I'd give the remake 3 stars. For those who haven't seen the original, this remake won't suffer by comparison and might be a 4-star film.
The original version of the Omen is an acknowledged classic. This remake is surprisingly faithful to the earlier version but consequently has little to justify its existence. Although the remake has its creepy moments, the original movie has more sustained suspense, in part because films from the 1970s often look more "real" than contemporary Hollywood blockbusters. In addition, the original version had a better score and a stronger sense of the uncanny. Perhaps most disappointing is that while the original movie brought something innovative and disturbing to the cineplex, this remake is recycling tropes from decades ago.
Was I the only person offended by how the new version uses 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina for cheap chills at the beginning of the film? (How parochial of Hollywood to use Hurricane Katrina for a prophecy about how rising waters would kill hundreds of thousands of people. Many more people were killed by the Asian tsunami in 2004.)
One additional point (and plot spoiler): I found the violent death of Mia Farrow in the film to be offputting (not scary, just disturbing). She's too much of a movie icon and gentle soul for me to cheer when seeing her gruesome death on the screen.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2006
It's shocking how a movie that's so stunningly similar to the original can still manage to be lacking. I think most of my gripe is because of the child actor they chose for this one-- he's just plain scary looking, whereas the child in the original was creepily cherubic, his smile sweet and sinister, and his curly locks perpetually hanging in his face. This new kid is cold and dark, offering little besides a few menacing stares and hushed speaking lines.
Basic premise: Kate (Julia Stiles) loses her baby during childbirth. Having gone through a difficult childbirth, she's unaware of this, so her husband, politician Robert Thorne (Liev Schrieber) works it out so they can "adopt" a motherless newborn. And of course he tells his wife that this is indeed their child. They name the boy Damien, there's a "happily ever after" montage of birthdays and first steps, and we flashforward to Damien at age 5, who has bags under his eyes, never gets sick, and is a freaky, friendless boy. Kate begins having "delusions" that Damien is evil, and when we see the kid barreling down the hallway on a scooter while mom is standing on a chair at the edge of the balcony watering some flowers, we know that she is most definitely NOT delusional.
The rest of the story centers around Robert trying to discover the underlying secrets of Damien's birth. Scenes with David Thewlis (the journalist who snaps eerie photos that contain, gasp, omens) and Mia Farrow (the "I'm here to protect you" nanny) are especially pleasing. Aside from a few cheap tricks to make you jump out of your seat (and you will!), this movie isn't as scary as the original. Worth a look for horror fans and anyone looking for a few good jumps. KINDA SORTA RECOMMENDED.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2007
Why anyone would try to remake a hit movie like "The Omen" starring Gregory Peck and Lee Remmick is the epitome of poor judgement. This movie is a "line for line" and "scene for scene" poor copy of the original with actors who never stood a chance in reprising the roles of great stars like Peck and Remmick. I can't imagine what manner of insanity overcame the minds of those who bankrolled this pale reproduction of a timeless classic. Surely there was some other Original, unfilmed storyline waiting to be produced that their money and effort could have been utilized on? Of course, that would require the talent of creative thinking to create something new from an unused storyline and not waste time and money to copy someone else's already successful film. If the original had been a silent film or a deteriorating black and white film, I might understand the need for a remake, but this copied reproduction was a pure waste of the money and effort that went into it. Obviously, Hollywood would rather copy and piggyback on the work of others rather than relying on original creativity.... which doesn't say much for the level of talent currently directing and producing in Hollywood.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2006
What anyone who knows the original should notice as this remake's greatest flaw is this: the Damien of the original did not appear particularly malevolent. He seemed like a little kid destined for his evil future, but still just a very little boy at this point. Things happened around him, as if evil forces were protecting and guiding him. Except for the scene on the way to the church where he explodes into a violent tantrum (which I would argue was an instinctual fight or flight reaction to a "holy place") he seemed creepily detached from the horror around him. The Damien of the remake was older, walked around with a perpetual scowl on his face, and actively participated as if he was an older, wiser, evil spirit within the body of a young boy. The prime example is the scene where his mother is injured in her fall from the upper floor. In the remake, Damien practically guides his scooter at the table on which she stood, his mean glare fixed on her as he did it. Watch the original. Damien was looking down toward the floor in front of the tricycle's front wheel when he collided. He wasn't even paying attention, as if his participation was guided "from below". He even looks startled when he first hits the table, which made his lack of affect as she is trying to hold on all the more chilling. I attribute these flaws to poor casting as far as age, misguided acting ques on the part of the director, and not necessarily the young actor himself. A younger child, seemingly more innocent like the original Damien, would have made the dichotomy of his true nature more profound.
19 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2006
I've never seen the original THE OMEN, so - unlike most reviewers - I'm not going to compare this movie to the original; I'll simply judge it on its own merits. Unfortunately, this film is seriously lacking in merits.
Now, I understand that horror movies are unlike other movies. Their primary purpose is to startle, creep-out and disturb. So - if the dialogue is a little mannered, or if the characters aren't fully developed - well, these shortcomings can be forgiven ... but COME ON! The dialogue in THE OMEN is *ridiculously* flat and uninspired. I do not exaggerate when I say it is as if a high school student penned the script. And, while Schrieber does a passable job with his role, Stiles generates one of the worst performances I have ever seen. She should be embarrassed. The one and only star performance is Farrow's; as the nanny, she is creepier than the anti-Christ child (and it did bring a smile to my face to see the star of ROSEMARY'S BABY cast in this film: nice touch).
The sophomoric script and vapid acting wouldn't be as noticeable if the movie were actually scary. Unfortunately, other than a few merely startling moments, there is nothing terrifying about this film. Mind you, this is coming from a woman who rarely watches horror films and is very easily frightened. I had nightmares after I watched DONNIE DARKO for the first time. However, rather than squirm with anticipation (which is the effect most horror films have on me), I spent most of this movie rolling my eyes at the laughable script and poking holes in the story's logic (Are all tombs in Italy that easy to open? How did the photographer know that the maternity ward was on the third floor? Why would an attempted child-murderer get a funeral with full military honors?).
To be fair, I did like the fact that THE OMEN attempted to create terror out of atmosphere and tension rather than out of violence and gore. But the key word here is "attempted." This movie was never able to create a sense of terror.
Basically, this is a silly film. The story is not very interesting. The acting is weak. It is not frightening. I absolutely do not recommend it.