"The Omen" Film Review

The Omen (1976) - IMDb

"The Omen" Film Review

Rating: 3.5/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    Damien from "The Omen" is such an iconic horror character. He has been referenced and parodied numerous times, and really made the character of the Antichrist such an iconic horror trope. Richard Donner's film, which then helped him land the job of directing his iconic "Superman" film with Christopher Reeve, is a good, enjoyable horror popcorn flick. I think there are problems with its story and its pacing, but as a whole and considering the legacy it has left behind, I think Donner's movie does a pretty damn good job holding up to today. 

    The film follows American diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck), who adopts orphan Damien (Harvey Spencer Stevens) after his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick), delivers a stillborn. They raise Damien as they would their own child, and everything seems peachy keen. However, when Damien's first nanny hangs herself in a public display at his birthday party, very strange things start to happen to the family concerning the young child. Even a priest named Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) shows up, warning Robert that their son isn't human and will try to kill the unborn child growing inside of Katherine. 

    While Robert dismisses the Father's warnings at first, an incident lands Katherine in the hospital, forcing Robert to actually investigate into his adopted son's past before they brought the baby home. With photographer Keith Jennings (David Warner), who noticed weird shadows in the last photos of those who mysteriously died, they travel to Rome to investigate Damien's past, with the lingering dread of knowing that his son may actually be the Antichrist. 

    I think the first half of this film is genuinely quite good, especially the first thirty minutes. It doesn't waste any time getting to the real meat and potatoes of this film, with Damien going home with Robert and Katherine and having the best time raising him. They seem like the perfect family you would see at the park. It doesn't even seem like a horror movie at first, until the nanny, who is played by Holly Palance and she does a fantastic job for her brief time in this film, hangs herself in front of all the children and parents to see. This is the perfect segue to turn this film into a dark and twisted horror film.    

    From there, the movie starts to expand on the horror and demented factors of the story. We then start to see the sort of crazed Father Brennan trying to warn Robert, while Damien starts to do horrific things, like push his mom off of a stairs balcony and smiling looking at her body. It's scary when adults do these sort of acts, but to have a twisted child makes it so much scarier, in my opinion. Spencer Stevens, who was only around 5 years old when they shot this film, does an amazing job of playing this demented child who is simply terrifying. Some child actors just really know what to do in films like these, and there are a select few that do it to perfection; Spencer Stevens was one of those child actors. 

    I would say the movie starts to fall apart when Robert and Keith go to Rome. I feel like the pacing is incredibly off, and the movie doesn't really know what to do with itself after the two men discover the long hidden secret. It does a lot of things right up until then, and it seems like the filmmakers sort of lose steam and just wants to wrap up the story as quickly as possible. It's honestly really disappointing because I feel like if the story could have been expanded for maybe twenty or thirty more minutes, they could have expanded more on the story and gave a satisfying conclusion. I think the ending here works really well, but I think it could have been earned a little more here. 

    However, I think Peck really does do a fantastic job here, which is no surprise. Peck plays a lovable character who just wants to provide for his family, and when it gets into the dark and evil aspects of the movie, he does a terrific job of showing how it takes a toll on the character and how it changed him to do what he does in the final moments of the film. I really wish we got some more time here with this character, but I do enjoy what he was able to bring to the screen with what he was given. 

    This is easily a very enjoyable horror popcorn flick. I'm sure it was terrifying when it was released, and made the viewer forget about the story and how it is played out. The story does contain flaws and the pacing is just not there for the final half of this movie. But, if you are looking for a good horror flick that will startle you and make you really think about what it is saying, I think you will enjoy this one. I definitely understand the hype for it, and this movie will always be a classic due to the characters and the story it gave the horror genre.