Thursday, June 6, 2024

The Omen (2006): A Review

THE OMEN (2006)

When you have the date 06/06/06 on the calendar, it does seem a waste to not try and capitalize on it by bringing us the tale of The Beast whose mark is also 666. Thus, we get The Omen, a remake of the 1976 Academy Award-winning film. So what if it happens to fall on a Tuesday when most films are released on a Thursday or Friday. The temptation was too strong to not release it that day. Unoriginal, slightly boring and toothless, The Omen is too much under the original's shadow to have been remade. 

Career diplomat Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) has received the devastating news that his newborn is dead. This will be beyond what his unsuspecting wife, Katherine (Julia Stiles) will be able to endure. However, there is hope from a Catholic priest who tells him that another baby boy, born at the same time as his own, lost his mother in childbirth. Thorn agrees to take the baby, whom they name Damien.

Many years later, Robert finds himself Ambassador to the Court of St. James when his mentor meets a somewhat gruesome end. Katherine is delighting in their new home and child to care about Robert's rise. The suicide of Damien's nanny in front of everyone on his birthday, however, is alarming. The new nanny, Mrs. Baylock (Mia Farrow) should be more alarming to the unsuspecting Thorns. There is also Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), a priest warning Robert that his child is dangerous. Finally, there is Keith Jennings (David Thewlis), a photographer who finds his pictures can predict the subject's demise.

Katherine begins having disturbing dreams about Damien and begins to fear him. She also wants an abortion when she discovers she's pregnant. No worries on that department, however, as Damien has caused an accident which in turn caused a miscarriage and Katherine's near death. Robert now begins to suspect Damien may indeed be the Antichrist. What role does Mrs. Baylock have in these evil games? Who will live and who will die as the spawn of Satan is shepherded into his malevolent rise?  

I remember well a coworker who was highly excited to see The Omen on June 6, 2006, which is when I first saw the film. I marvel that it is now eighteen years since then. I think of the long, strange trip my life has been since then, but I digress. I do not know if that coworker, with whom I have lost touch since, had ever seen the original. For those who had, I think the 2006 The Omen would be a pale imitation.

A good way to measure if this or any remake of a film is good is if you can see it without thinking or remembering the original. The 2006 Omen does not because, for the most part, it does not venture away from what came before. Almost all the same beats are hit, which makes one wonder why anyone even bothered. The Omen's cast and crew simultaneously wanted to make the film reverential to the original and more frightening. It failed in the latter, struggled in the former. The Omen did what many failed films have done: mistake stillness for suspense. 

Those of us who have seen the 1976 version can tell where some of the differences are. Those differences, however, reveal how much better the original was. A change is when Damien is with the animals. The 1976 version had Karen and Damien driving in their car among the monkeys, who sensed the evil to such a degree that they attack their car, with an understandably terrified Karen fleeing in horror. Here, Katherine is at a zoo on a school field trip. The simians start going berserk, but the glass stops them from going ape.

Director John Moore could not bring any sense of terror or tension to this scene or any. There was a detachment from things, coupled with an over-seriousness to everything, as if everyone was aware that The Omen was a remake to a horror classic and should treat things with almost reverence. It does not help that the acting is equally bad. Stiles observes during the ape frenzy, "They're afraid", but her delivery is almost bored. She might as well have said, "We'll have two ice cream sundaes," for all the alleged tension and terror of this moment.

It does not help that it is slightly unclear if her comment was referring to the various chimps or the screaming children fleeing in panic.

My late friend Fidel Gomez, Jr. and I disagreed on Liev Schreiber. He always thought he was wooden, while I thought he could, on occasion, be good. In The Omen, it is clearly in the former. This is probably the worst performance of Schreiber's career. Schreiber had the exact same expression throughout the entire film. I do not think that in the history of cinema, we have had someone not change his expression once on camera as Liev Schreiber did (or did not) in The Omen. The closest he came was when he learned that his newborn was dead. However, that small moment was not good.

Julia Stiles also seemed detached from things. It was only at her end that Stiles shows any emotion, and to be fair, it was good. However, that came too late to save her performance. I think, however, that the screenplay failed to give her much to do. Farrow's casting was stunt casting. Who better than Rosemary as the literal nanny from Hell? She was acceptable, though not great. She was better than Postlethwaite or Thewlis. The former was too serious to almost bored as the renegade priest fighting to save the world from the Antichrist. The latter tried too hard to be a casual observer.

The Omen also had moments of unintended hilarity. When Robert learns of Katherine's death, why they opted to have thunderstorms rolling in the background does not make things more serious. It makes them sillier. Same for when Katherine plunges three floors thanks to Damien. If that fall didn't kill her, why would a Satanic nanny? 

The film also suffers from a rushed to chaotic ending, with the editing going pretty much bonkers in a failed effort at tension. 

The Omen was cashing in on two elements: the date of 6/6/06 and the reputation of the original. If the original did not exist, The Omen would have been dismissed as so much schlock. As the original does exist, The Omen is just dull. 


Next Omen Film: The First Omen

No comments:

Post a Comment

Views are always welcome, but I would ask that no vulgarity be used. Any posts that contain foul language or are bigoted in any way will not be posted.
Thank you.