Horror
The Omen
.
Dir: Richard Donner
Star: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Patrick Troughton
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1976
Format: DVD R2
'

He was born at six am on the sixth day of the sixth month. Born of a jackal his birth signals the coming of armageddon. The site of the final confrontation between the forces of good and evil as foretold in the book of revelations, will begin with the birth of the son of Satan - in human form.
Unable to tell his wife (Lee Remick) the tragic news of their stillborn son, American diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) accepts a newborn orphan as his son. Details of the childs birth remain a secret but, as the bot Damien grows older, it becomes apparent that he is no ordinary child. As mysterious deaths and strange portents, warnings occur Robert Thorn slowly becomes aware of the hideous evil behind the childs innocent face and the significance of the number 666, which brings about the most terrifying revelations....

The Omen certainly ages well and can more than adeqautely hold its own against many modern offerings and at times it is hard to believe that it was made in the mid seventies. Richard Donner takes the clever and erudite script by David Seltzer and escapes from tv to make a triumphant break into film which was the start to an impressive career. On the success of The Omen he landed his next and most famous project which was of course Superman.

Donner directs superbly and the pacing is spot on as the film weaves it dastardly web of intrigue and horror. The hair raising score by Jerry Goldsmith helps with the marvellous direction to draw the viewer deeply into the chilling tale and notibly earned Goldsmith his first Academy Award. The overrall style of the direction is very much "less is more". There is no excessive gore and no rampant blood letting, devoid of over the top gratuitiousness the film is instead a subtle and effectively disturbing psychological thriller. Religious orientated horror is always a difficult and often sensitive minefield of a subject to cover in a movie but this is one of the rare occasions that it works well. Donner makes clever use of the camera and displays a distinct flair, producing some aesthetic shots and subtle ocular close ups to relate some of the horror.

A superb cast featuring a host of talent (mostly British I hasten to add) ranging from the "Doctor" Patrick Troughton and Billie Whitelaw and the excellent David Warner all provide some charged and memorable performances. Warner plays the sceptical photographer Keith Jennings who stumbles unwittingly onto the truth and becomes a target for the evil influence protecting Damien. The charismatic Gregory Peck affords some Hollywood weight to the film, and works well with on screen wife Remick. They each display some great chemistry with each other and are quite believable as "parents" to young Damien quite well played by young Harvey Stephens. Brief but promising performance by Holly Palance (yes, Jack's daughter) as the young nanny that eventually hangs herself.

This relatively simple story steeped in bible-lore is as disturbing and hair raising now as it was upon it's release in 1976. A monumental movie that paved the way for much of the stylization evident in much of modern horror cinema. Effective on many subtle levels this is still a creepy flick that can fill you with dread at the prospect of watching it alone.

Quote

"When the Jews return to Zion and a comet rips the sky
The holy Roman empire rises, then you and I must die
From the eternal sea he rises, creating armies on either shore
Turning man against his brother, till man exists no more."

Rating: 5 out of 5

DVD
Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Very good quality but occasionally grainy
Audio Dolby 2.0 Good quality surround sound and makes the most of it
Features Animated menu
Excellent commentary track by director Richard Donner and editor Stuart Baird
"666 - The Omen Revealed" behind the scenes documentary
"Curse or coincidence" intersting look at some of the "accidents / mishaps" surrounding the making of the film
"Scoring the Omen" interesting interview with soundtrack composer Jerry Goldsmith
Trailer
Verdict Part of the 25th Anniversary set so a good presentation in a nice box set that unfolds out into the shape of a cross.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home