Horrific Remake

Horror re-makes often fall short of the success of their predecessors: think Gus Van Sant’s 1998 carbon-copy of Psycho. John Moore’s 2006 version of The Omen doesn’t fare any better. The Omen, a chilling tale of a mom whose newborn has died and is replaced (unbeknownst to her) by an orphaned infant, does little with the storyline to justify Moore’s efforts at re-interpretation.

The film attempts to modernize the cult classic with a cryptic first scene in a church that attempts to tie the tragedies of 9/11 and the tsunamis in Asia with the coming of Damien, the son of Satan. This gimmick is embarrassing — it belittles those world disasters and is incoherent within the framework of the film.

However, it’s bland language and choppy cinematography that ultimately destroy the movie. The camera jumps from one wordy scene to the next without continuity — a disorienting move which even the all-star cast cannot seem to keep pace.

Julia Stiles as Damien’s mother, Katherine Thorn, is paired with Liev Schreiber, who plays her husband Robert. There is no chemistry between them from their first scene, and throughout the film the couple remains cold and hardly believable. To Stiles’ credit, she makes a good “scared face” and is convincing in her discomfort and disdain for her “son.”

However, most of the movie doesn’t focus on the relationship between Stiles and her child. Instead the camera follows Schreiber and his photographer-turned-detective-turned-best bud on undercover chases filled with convoluted dialogue and confusion. Schreiber is supposedly a revered stage actor abroad, but from I’ve seen of his film work (Scream 2 and 3, and Jonathan Demme’s The Manchurian Candidate) he should stick to Shakespeare. He doesn’t translate to the big screen for me — his eyes are dead and his voice monotone — so you end up snoring during his long-winded dialogues.

Damien, played by child-actor Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, doesn’t work in this film either. Chalk it up to youth, but his turn as spine-chilling weirdo kid hardly does for the genre what Haley Joel Osment did in The Sixth Sense. Fitzpatrick does his best to look as stern and frightening as possible, but often ends up looking like a sick child (thanks to the dark circles lining his eyes) about to vomit or pass out.

The only actor that lives up to the expectations for her creepy character is Mia Farrow, who reprises the role of Damien’s evil-doing new nanny. Watching Farrow onscreen, one is reminded of own her son-of-the-devil horror flick, Rosemary’s Baby. Her screen presence is undeniable, especially in the scene where she encourages Damien to off his mother by pushing her from the balcony. I found myself wanting to see more Farrow than anyone else; her scenes are the most chilling of the film.

I’m panning this movie. It’s not good enough to have seen in the theatres (God help you if you did), and it’s not bad enough to be entertaining on video like the Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th movies. If you really want to see The Omen, go pick up Richard Donner’s 1976 original. Happy Halloween!

Quiana Chambers

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