The Omen movie series

The Omen

The Omen series of books was one of the first ones I ever read, when I was a young kid. I remember the books were quite frightening, even more so than The Exorcist. The films don't disappoint in this regard.

The Omen starts when a baby is born of a jackal, the isolated one, who replaces the real child of Robert (Gregory Peck) and Katherine (Lee Remick) Thorn. Christened Damien (Harvey Stephens), he grows up into a relatively cute kid watched over a ferocious dog who ensures that he is protected. His first "killing" occurs when his nurse needs to be replaced by an agent of evil, Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw). Later, his adopted mother who suspects the truth about his birth, is killed by his caretaker. Finally it's up to Robert Thorn to rectify the situation; the question is whether he can do it effectively. He is aided by an intrepid photographer, Keith Jennings (David Warner), who knows that he is high on Damien's enemies list .

In a way, The Omen predated the clever slash-and-gore flicks. The primary difference is that instead of a psychopathic human killer, or even a made-up monster, we have evil incarnate, Satan himself. He is reborn in human form, dispatching those who get in his way, one by one, in novel and innovative ways.

The acting by Peck is classy and everyone else, including the child actor, Harvey Stephens, do a good job. The cinematography, the score, and the pacing is excellent, resulting in a heightened sense of suspense. The Omen is definitely a classic horror film that is worth a rental anytime.

Omen 2: Damien

Omen 2: Damien starts where the first movie ended. Damien (Jonathan Scott-Taylor), having survived from being killed by his father (who was shot in the process), has been adopted by his uncle Richard (William Holden) and aunt Ann (Lee Grant) Thorn. But it is not long before his Antichrist powers begin to manifest, killing all those around him.

In this sequel, Damien is aided by a raven. At the start of the film, Damien appears to be a normal boy. He is sent to a boarding school along with his cousin Mark (Lucas Donat) who he is extremely close to. His first victim is his aunt Marion (Sylvia Sidney) who suspects Damien is not the best possible influence on Mark; his next victims are those that get in his way at boarding school. Finally, he turns on his uncle and aunt and ends up inheriting all the power in the Thorn empire.

The sequels to the first film don't live up to heightened sense of suspense and anticipation seen in the first film, in part because we've been here before. In particular, this film only advances Damien's career to a point where he's set up for world domination (which he attempts in the next film). So we're mostly stuck with the standard "how's he going to kill all these people who are getting too close to him and get away with it?" question.

The solid cast do a fine job muddling through the film answering the above question. The score is quite decent. The film introduces a richer connection between Damien and Biblical mythology (including references to the Whore of Babylon, and the Four Horsemen, who aid Damien in his quest). The film is worth watching only when the entire Omen movie series is watched.

Omen 3: The Final Conflict

The plot in the second sequel to the Omen movie series is somewhat more complex, in part because of presence of the anti-anti-Christ.

Damien Thorn (Sam Neill) is all grown up and the head of Thorn Industries, the largest company in the world. He is appointed as the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., following in his foster father's footsteps. His post, as well as being the leader of the UN Youth Council, gives him the opportunity to influence and mold young minds worldwide. He uses these political powers to herald his ascension so that his father, Satan, can rule the world.

But Damien is worried that the son of god will mess his plans up. Sure enough, a new star of Bethlehem appears, indicating the second coming of Christ, and every day after that, Damien's powers grow weaker. Damien therefore orders all children born on the day the star made its appearance to be killed. One such child turns out to be the son of Dean (Don Gordon), Damien's confidant. Dean has to undergo an internal struggle to decide where his loyalties lie.

Fortunately (?) for the world, the knives that can kill Damien are found by seven monks who set out to complete the task that his father and uncle failed to do in the first two films. The seven monks aren't the most competent, but they have god on their side and can't fail.

You'd think with the death of Damien, it'd all be over. But finding time aside from his world domination plans, Damien sleeps with journalist Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow), leaving her pregnant. Again, this film is only worth watching if you watch the entire series.

Omen 4: The Awakening

It doesn't require great prophetic skills to realise that Damien having sex with a reporter will result in the birth of an offspring who will inherit his place as the evil to end all evil.

Gene (Michael Woods) and Karen York (Faye Grant) adopt the baby, Delia (Asia Vieira). Accidents happen. People die. The mother gets suspicious and tries to uncover the truth behind Delia. More accidents happen. More people die. Though the accidents and deaths are not as inventive or original as the previous three films, they are effective.

The idea of a switch to a female antichrist is a good one, and Asia Vieira plays her part with gusto. This is however mostly a mediocre film, thanks to the writers, and worth watching only for completeness' sake.

One of the nice things the Omen movie series does is link evil to politics. Someone who is likely to become the antichrist is likely to want to control over all his minions. In a way, the film series presents the message that Satan is alive and well in our current world, and the politicians of today are his servants, doing his bidding.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||