Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Omen (1976)

Let's start off October with The Omen!  This is a haunting movie with great performances and made much better by Jerry Goldsmith's score.  Seriously, the music is one of the scariest elements of the film and won an Academy Award.  I will give this film a 7/10.

Ambassador Thorn and his wife, Katherine, are in a hospital in Rome where Katherine is having a baby.  The priest in charge of the place comes to tell him their baby was stillborn and makes a strange suggestion.  Instead of telling his wife their baby died, why not just take another baby in its place?  Oh look I have one right here.  There should be some red flags going up here but I guess not.  So what if the priest had simply given the baby to him, not telling him the real one died?  What was the point in telling him?  It has to do with free will and the old notion of you can't let an evil spirit into your house without inviting it in.  Thorn willfully chose to keep the baby, therefore becoming part of the evil, and lying to his wife about it is wrong too.

They move to London with their new son, Damien, and as time goes on they notice weird things about him.  Like he can't stand being near churches and his nanny hangs herself at a party.  Eventually Thorn learns from another priest that Damien is the Antichrist, the son of the devil.  He tells Thorn he has to kill Damien.

That is one element that stands out above any other horror film of this era.  The villain isn't an adult who is either deranged or cold-blooded evil.  Nor is he a man-eating animal or alien being.  The villain is a child.  And you just don't kill a child.  Naturally, Thorn is horrified to learn he has to ritualistically stab his child.

The special effects were decent, too.  I especially liked the editing of the beheading scene.  It's timed so if you close your eyes right as it is happening, by the time your eyes open, you can still see the head floating in the air.  Unfortunately, during the cemetery scene where the Rotties are chasing Thorn and the photographer, I clearly saw the doghandlers hiding nearby.

Another element I noticed is that there isn't really anything overly supernatural going on.  Or is there? His nanny hangs herself, maybe she had issues and needed mental health counseling.  The pole hitting that priest, a beheading of the photographer - mere accidents.  Damien's new nanny killing his mom?  That lady is straight up evil.  Maybe she wanted to replace her as his mother, his only caretaker.  Damien freaks out near a church.  Azalea has temper tantrums of similar strength at home for no reason. Maybe because I wouldn't give her a candy pumpkin.  Probably because it was 4 o'clock in the morning and it's not time to eat candy pumpkins and I am not giving in.  Maybe my little co-film critic is a demon too.  Nobody would suspect someone with a name like Azalea.

The lack of supernatural always lead us to question Thorn.  Is he deranged and willing to kill his adopted son because of his pent up guilt?  Or do all these little things add up to the truth that Damien really is the Antichrist?

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