Monday, May 6, 2024

The Final Conflict: Omen III. A Review



Going by The Final Conflict (also known as Omen III: The Final Conflict), people can rest in the knowledge that Lucifer will not conquer this world. Sometimes unintentionally hilarious, The Final Conflict has some beautiful imagery amidst the sometimes odd acting and story.

Damien Thorn (Sam Neill) is now a powerful industrialist, eyeing a Senate run and manipulating his way to being appointed Ambassador to the Court of St. James, a post once held by his late father. Why the great interest in these posts?

Damien is fully aware that he is the Antichrist, heralding in a new and glorious Dark Age where his true father the Devil will reign over the earth. Damien especially wants to prevent the return of "The Nazarene", his sworn enemy. To battle against Damien is an order of monks, led by Father DeCarlo (Rossano Brazzi). These seven holy men have acquired the seven daggers needed to kill the Antichrist and have gone to London to complete their mission.

Caught in all this is Kate Reynolds (Lisa Harrow), the Barbara Walters of the United Kingdom. Drawn to Damien, she still senses something is off. She at first welcomes his interest in her son, Peter (Barnaby Holm), but the strange goings-on around Damien, such as an assassination attempt, trouble her. Peter, for his part, has fallen under Damien's spell, a willing teen manservant Hecubus to his Sir Simon Milligan.

Damien is aware that The Nazarene has been reborn, so he must recreate Herod's Slaughter of the Innocents to assure that He is eliminated. A series of strange infant deaths of baby boys born on March 24 start to occur in Britain. How will that affect Damien's loyal henchman, Harvey Dean (Don Gordon), whose wife Barbara (Leueen Willoughby) just had a baby boy on March 23 or March 24? Will DeCarlo convince Reynolds of Damien's Satanic background before Damien schtups her? Will Damien and the Nazarene face off in the Final Conflict?

It might be good to focus on the positives in The Final Conflict. The production design and overall look of the film is quite nice. There is a montage where we meet the merry monks that is impressive in seeing their various personalities without them speaking. Oddly, the opening section where the seven blades of Megiddo are rediscovered, sold and brought to the monastery is also mostly silent save for Jerry Goldsmith's score. Damien's black mass lair where he mocks the image of "The Nazarene" also looks nice.

Andrew Birkin's script also gives some of the actors, especially Neill, a chance to speak surprisingly articulate words. As Damien mocks the figure of his enemy, he speaks of the new Satanic kingdom, where we will see "the grandeur of melancholy, the divinity of loneliness, the purity of evil and the paradise of pain". 

However, Birkin's script also has some howlers in terms of dialogue and plot. When Damien states in a half-bark half-blank statement, "Liquidate the Nazarene!", it sounded oddly funny. As he addresses his coven, the Disciples of the Watch, it was hard to suppress the giggles as he goes on about the importance of their mission to kill the Christ Child. 

More hilarity comes courtesy of the Order of St. Keystone Cops, forever botching the simple job of killing the Antichrist. Let's put aside for the moment how in The Omen, we are told that it takes all seven daggers to kill the Antichrist while The Final Conflict only one is required. These inept clerics constantly botch things in more and more laughable ways. I'm not sure if the first stab at Damien (pun intended) was the funniest. The monk, who managed to enter the television studio where Damien will be interviewed, comes close until Harvey sees him and calls out to Damien. He then falls and manages to set himself on fire as he swings back and forth before the cameras.

Somehow, I figure Birkin and director Graham Baker expected this to be shocking. Instead, it somehow ended up funny, more so with Neill's thoroughly disengaged manner. Try as they might, these monks can't kill Damien. The Final Conflict never firmly establishes whether all the various hit jobs were planned, organized and/or approved by DeCarlo or whether they were just rogue monks going their own way. The attempt on Damien's life at the fox hunt is a case of poor planning. Despite knowing Damien's powers, two monks were unaware of how he could control animals, leading to grisly ends for both. 

Even that was not the worst one. As three are climbing up to an abandoned castle, Damien fools them into killing the wrong person. To be honest, I expected this only due to the film's runtime.

The Final Conflict is not big on logic either internally or in the overall Omen timeline. Again, there is the number of daggers needed to kill Damien. There is oddly no mention that Damien Thorn will rise to the same position that his father held. Harvey has been a willing henchman for Damien, but somehow he did not think his child would be in danger? It never makes sense why Harvey, who appears to know Damien is the Antichrist, suddenly opts to try and run from his influence. It is a bit muddled.

Kate, despite receiving DeCarlo's warnings and surviving almost drowning in front of Damien, shortly afterwards has sex with him. Again, a bit muddled. 

Damien orders his henchmen to kill the baby boys, but he apparently can get someone to kill her baby with mere mind control. That begs the question why didn't he just do that with all the newborn parents rather than have a priest kill one baby at that baby's baptism.

As a side note, how the priest managed to do the Devil's bidding in a church but couldn't go into one in The Omen will be left unexplained. 

Add to that, Damien's age seems to be in final conflict with what has come before. He says he plans to run for the Senate in 1984, making him at least thirty. The Omen and Damien: Omen II pretty much establish that Damien is about 13 in 1983 (Omen II taking place seven years after The Omen, where he is around 5 or 6). 

Bless Rosanno Brazzi for taking this seriously and giving the best performance in this oddly loopy film. Sam Neill appears to have been directed as if The Final Conflict was Hamlet, his soliloquy against the Nazarene coming across as too serious where it shifts into camp. Harrow's Kate came across as a bit dim and sometimes bored. I will give Holm some credit as young Peter, the young worshipful and doomed teen. While not a great performance, I put it down more to Graham's directing than Holm himself.

The ending should be uplifting, but it feels almost anticlimactic, as if just had to end as it did. 

There are some good points in The Final Conflict. Some of the visuals are impressive and the score is quite strong. However, disjointed, unintentionally funny and at times illogical, you cannot give this devil his due. 

Damien Thorn & Peter Reynolds: The Remix


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