When a Mummy and a Daddy love each other very much, and they unfortunately have a baby who does not survive the birth, the Daddy shouldn’t agree to take a newly orphaned baby without telling Mummy.
That’s the first few minutes of The Omen, it opens in Rome and pretty much runs as it is loosely described above. The father is Gregory Peck as Robert, a prominent politician (who has a great “I AM ACTING!” voice), and the mother is Lee Remick as Kathy. Faced with the choice of telling Kathy that the baby did not survive, or taking the opportunity handed when another mother dies during her own son’s birth, Robert takes the latter way out.
At the time the local priest says “God has given you a son.”……. yeah, right.
Cut to about 3 years later, Robert is promoted to be the US ambassador to the United Kingdom, resulting in an immediate move for the family and the young Damien.
When Damien turns 5 they throw a big party at their home, this is where it gets messy. The family nanny sees a dog lurking nearby, a pitch black dog, I think a rottweiler, for whatever reason the nanny seems impelled to take dramatic action, she goes to the first floor, wraps a noose around her neck and throws herself off the edge. But not before screaming something to the effect of “This is all for you Damien!” In the resultant chaos Damien spies the dog, still lurking, and gives him a friendly wave.
At the party, and at most major events that occur to the family over the next hour, a photographer is snapping away all the while.
A few days later in rolls Father Brennan to the embassy who asks to speak to Robert, who initially agrees. After he goes off on a bit of a tirade rabbitting on all sorts of ominous doomsday stuff, he is turfed.
Enter the SuperNanny Mrs Baylock, she arrives unintroduced and unrequested at the home, and while she appears quite nice and professional you can tell immediately something ain’t quite right with her. (Especially when she goes into Damien’s room and it appears that she doesn’t have any white parts in her eyes.) Evidence keeps building up against the poor little tacker, obviously the nanny suicide being exhibit A.
Over the ensuing few days:
– A trip to church sends Damien into a cuckoo-bananas frenzy, forcing them to abandon the sermon and;
– A day out at the local drive-through safari park shows Kathy that even animals have fear and hatred for Damien, especially the baboons who go (wait for it), apeshit.
Initially Kathy blames herself for Damien and actually asks for psychological help for herself, where she claims that Damien is not her child, and that he is evil. You’d think that at this point the right thing to do would be for Robert to ‘fess up but in his mind the lie got him this far, what more could go wrong?
Father Brennan shows again at a local rugby match, telling Robert to meet him the following day for 5 minutes only, as his wife is in danger. When Robert meets him Brennan spouts a lot of nonsensical sounding gibberish and tells him he must visit some guy to “Tell him how to kill the child”. Upon parting ways, a storm flares up from nowhere and “follows” Father Brennan who seeks solace at a church, though things don’t go so well for him when there…
The straw that breaks the camel’s back is when Damien is fanging around the first floor on his tricycle and seemingly makes a beeline for Kathy, who is standing on a table watering houseplants. This scene is quite famous and has been parodied a few times, there are many quick cuts between Damien, Mrs Baylock and an unaware Kathy, and when she falls off the balcony the camera follows her to the floor.
I don’t feel that I’m giving too much away to this point when the poster has a picture of the boy with glowing red eyes.
Damien is Satan’s kid, there I said it.
Anyway once the photographer gets involved and contacts Robert things heat up, Robert decides to investigate for his family’s sake and this takes him on a long quest first to a hospital in Rome, then a monastery, then an abandoned cemetery, and finally a city near Jerusalem. He must have racked up some frequent flyer miles!
The climax is slightly tacky after such a prolonged deliberate build up and almost felt like a let down, but the final scene was effective and set up the sequel which was apparently inevitable even though this film was made in 1978, and sequelitis wasn’t yet rampant in Hollywood.
Even after a movie which dealt with the son of Satan and his attempt to take over the world by using a small boy, I was never actually scared or even nervous watching the movie. I might remind you that The Exorcist came out before this film and it was very edgy and way more scary than this, but The Omen was well acted and for some reason I like movies that pose theological questions or theories.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Perhaps hasn’t aged that well and gore hounds look elsewhere, but a well made film and worth a look to escape the usual “High School Cannibal Cheerleaders 11”.