Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012: The Omen (1976)

If there’s one thing everyone should be able to agree on it’s that little kids are evil!

Written By: David Seltzer
Directed By: Richard Donner

I was prepared to come into this review blaming Harvey Stephens for most of the problems I had with The Omen. I still place a lot of the blame on his lack of a performance as Damien, but the truth is I had other problems with The Omen that effected my enjoyment of Richard Donner’s film. That’s not to say that I disliked The Omen, I liked it a fair amount. But, it could have been a great movie, and instead it ends up being only a good movie wavering towards decent.

Since I brought him up first I’ll start with Mr. Stephens as Damien. He is supposed to be the anti-Christ, and yet I found Damien to be rather blase. I didn’t need complete evil, but I needed a child actor who could convey emotions in his eyes and his face. Mr. Stephens really could not do that, and thus Damien ends up far less emotive than I would have liked. I had a hard time buying into Damien as a drawing point of great evil because other than a few half hearted grins and the occasional bit of childish yelling Mr. Stephens is never horrific or creepy enough as Damien.

To go along with the issue of Damien’s lack of menace there is the lack of development given to the character of Mrs. Baylock. She is a menacing character, but ultimately she is a hollow character. Mr. Donner doesn’t spend enough time with Mrs. Baylock so that she is more than an obviously evil character waiting in the wings to strike.I think a lot more could have been done with Mrs. Baylock, or at the very least she could have been fleshed out a tad more.

Easily the two meatiest characters in The Omen are Robert and Katherine Thorn. Of those two it is Katherine who is the most interesting and the most developed. There were a few moments when I questioned her characters actions or words, but on the whole Lee Remick does a good job of playing the proud, frightened, and eventually terrified mother. Gregory Peck is good as Richard, but I did feel he was a tad too wooden. There are key moments where Mr. Peck needs to be more than his usual restrained calm self, but he never quite moves beyond the Gregory Peck that moviegoers everywhere already know. He’s not bad by any means, but there were times when Mr. Peck let me down because of how cold and flat he played the character.

The score of The Omen is top notch, and the direction of Mr. Donner really drives the movie forward and helps it to be better than its faults. I was especially impressed with the inventive deaths and the way in which the deaths were framed. Visually The Omen is well put together. The strong visuals and score are the reason that The Omen has as eerie of an atmosphere as it does.

The Omen gets by on the strength of its atmosphere. There are many fine elements at play in The Omen, but there are just as many distracting, or in the case of Damien’s creepiness, missing elements in the film. I know that The Omen could have been a much better film, but the film I was given still ended up an interesting and worthwhile watch. The Omen is not a movie that lives up to its reputation, its flaws are too many for it to ever live up to such a large reputation. But, The Omen is still a good film, and a horror film that I am glad I finally got around to watching.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

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7 responses to “Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012: The Omen (1976)

  1. Mark Middlemas

    Good review. I’ve never really clicked with this film. The problem, of course, is the inevitable comparison in my mind to films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. Both of those films have mystery, nuance and tension on their side, whereas The Omen always seemed loud and obvious to me. It never felt as big as it wanted us to believe it was. The music is powerful and epic in scopee, but the story? Not so much. It’s mostly a series of odd events rather than a true prelude to armageddon.

  2. Yep, The Omen wants to be huge and epic, but it’s missing all the key small ingredients that make big apocalypse horror films work.

  3. In terms of child actors in horror films about awful children, did you see ‘Orphan’ (2009), and if so, how did you feel about Isabelle Furhman’s performance?

  4. I thought she was really good in that one. She was menacing while also being manipulative and at the same time believable. I liked that movie a fair bit in general.

  5. You should read the book Bill, Mrs. Baylock is very fleshed out in it.

  6. I’ll add it to my long list of books to get to someday. 🙂

  7. Pingback: Splatter Time Fun Fest 2012: The 3rd Annual Bloody Machete Awards | Bill's Movie Emporium

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