"The First Omen" Film Review

The First Omen (2024) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

"The First Omen" Film Review

Rating: 5/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    In 1976, Richard Donner introduced the world to the child of Damien, the Antichrist. Donner showed the chaos and terror that would reign on the world if the Antichrist was created and was allowed to walk on the Earth. It became an instant horror classic, and spawned a franchise throughout the years. However, I think the scariest (and perhaps best) entry in that franchise comes in the form of "The First Omen", a 2024 prequel that I seriously had my doubts about. These horror prequels nowadays don't really work too well and answer questions no one was asking. However, this 2024 film by newcomer Arkasha Stevenson does a fantastic job of adding more context to the story from the original, while also easily being one of the scariest movies in the past few years. 

    This film is set as a prequel for the original one, taking place about a year before Robert Thorn adopted Damien. This 2024 prequel follows a nun named Margaret (Nell Tiger Free), who travels to Rome to take her vows and become a nun. When she gets there however, she meets a young girl named Carlita (Nicole Sorace), who is presented as a problem child and has to be locked away from the other children. Margaret starts to feel for Carlita as she was also considered a problem child when she was little and was punished by the nuns at her orphanage. 

    When she starts to take Carlita under her wing and try to protect her, she starts to notice incredibly sinister things happening around the nunnery, including aspects that could be related to the Devil and the coming of the Antichrist. When Margaret learns that the nuns and the priests might have more sinister motives for Carlita, Margaret is going to make sure nothing happens to the young girl, which may put her in even more danger than the student is watching over. 

    To be honest, I watched "The Omen" for the first time the same day I went and saw this film. Therefore, I really had no expectations or excitement for this new installment of this long-running franchise. I knew and appreciated the 1976 film as it really was a massive thing for the horror genre, but was something that was surprisingly never on my radar. When I saw the first trailer for this film, which moves in reverse for the entire length of the trailer, I was really intrigued and interested to see if Stevenson could make a film like this work. 

    I was definitely pleasantly surprised leaving the theater... and scared out of my wits. I am not exaggerating when I say this movie is easily one of the scariest I have ever seen. I have seen many films that try to tackle subject matter like this or revolve around the occupants of a nunnery, but none have really struck a nerve with me like this film has. Stevenson does a fantastic job of creating this suffocating, terrifying atmosphere that sinks its claws into you and won't let go until the credits roll. Even then, you're still replaying some of these scenes and images in your minds for the rest of the day, or even, in my case, for a couple days after seeing it. 

    If you have followed my page for a while and read my reviews, you can tell my hatred for horror films relying on jump scares to be scary. Thankfully, this movie doesn't do that at all. Sure, there are jump scares; what modern horror movie anymore doesn't have jump scares. But they are done so very creatively and unique, making you question that whether what you just saw was real or not. There are a couple instances in this movie that still make me wonder how the filmmakers were able to get away with the graphic nature of some of its content. 

    Rather than relying on jump scares, Stevenson wants to make the viewer uncomfortable. There is this lingering sense of dread throughout the film, one that starts right when the first scene opens. You feel so isolated and alone when watching this, and it will make you shift uncomfortably in your seat numerous times. There is one terrifying scene in particular, that I won't spoil to allow you to experience it for yourself, that takes place when Margaret is locked alone in a room. It's about three minutes, but literally feels like forever with how Stevenson shot and crafted this segment. Even though this is her first real mainstream horror movie, I will say that Stevenson is a master at this craft. 

    Tiger Free does an excellent job throughout the entire film, and I would even go as far as to say she gives one of the best horror performances in the past few years. She is incredible at not only being scary when she needs to be, but really just play this person that is terrified by what is going on around her. Her performances wows you and makes you sick to your stomach at the same exact time. At the same time, co-stars Norace, Sônia Braga, Ralph Ineson, Bill Nighy, and Maria Caballero all do such a great job here, and compliment the main star and the story perfectly. 

    I also want to mention the chilling score from Mark Korven and the beautifully haunting cinematography from Aaron Morton are amazing, and really add to the sense of dread that Stevenson sets up with the story. There are moments that the cinematography and the score elevate the horror that is placed on the screen, making non-scary scenes just a tad more frightening. 

    This movie features a lot of newcomers and artists trying to break into the industry more, and I believe they will all go incredibly far because of this film. Stevenson and Tiger Free really make something incredible here, and I honestly think they hit a home run on everything they tried to do. This movie undoubtedly scared the bejesus out of me, and I can't imagine how this movie could be even better. I really want to go see it again to see things I may have missed on my first watch, but the filmmakers here have crafted such a terrifyingly good movie that I am genuinely nervous to go watch this again in a dark theater.