Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Omen (2006)

THE OMEN: The Devil Comes With Not Many Pasalubongs
By Reymundo Salao

Many believe the prophecy from the Book of Revelation provides a map to a terrifying future…or it presents fragments of history that have come to life in our time. The signs, they claim, are all around us: terrorist attacks; extreme weather… the list goes on. The passage specifically points to the arrival of the Anti-Christ, who is branded with the numerical sequence “666”: the mark of the Beast. The Anti-Christ will receive his power directly from Satan to establish a counterfeit kingdom on earth, signaling the beginning of Armageddon…

Robert Thorn and his wife Katherine are unaware that the child they have raised, who was born on June 6, 2006 is the long-prophesized Anti-Christ. Now, on his sixth birthday, bizarre incidents around Damien have started to happen, and Robert Thorn must now make the ultimate sacrifice to prevent the unspeakable terror that awaits the world.

THE OMEN (2006) is one of the more faithful remakes of a classic horror movie. And by faithful, it is really meant literally; there's not much that this film adds and not much decreased from the original. It is as if they were making the entire project with no alteration except for actors, actresses, and director, using the very same script and the same storyboards as basis.

Among the minimal alteration is that in the original, the couple that raised Damien are already a middle-aged couple. In this remake, the couple is significantly younger. Producer Glenn Williamson notes: "We felt that by making Robert and Katherine younger, they'd project the image of a couple on the ascendancy of their lives, both personally and professionally. While they're educated and successful, they're also young and working hard to make their career and marriage work. It adds to their confusion and shock when they begin to suspect, and then discover the truth about Damien."

The original version was creepy but dragging. Much of the original movie's intensity was due to its mind-etching demonic theme music. This remake, however, fails to utilize the original theme music, except for in the end credits; it was used, to no avail. This remake is less dragging, a bit more interesting, and more visceral, but it never really makes a better version than the original, which has a minimalist horror value than this one.

Julia Stiles has proven herself to be a flexible actress having graduated from her teen roles in "Save the Last Dance" and "10 Things I Hate About You" and into a heavy role of a young mother faced with a mysterious creepy child that she herself raised. The film also features three of my favorite actors; Pete Postlethwaite (of "The Usual Suspects" & "In the Name of the Father") plays the mad and desperate for redemption, Father Brennan, David Thewlis ("Island of Dr. Moreau" & "Dragonheart") as the curious photographer Jennings, and Liev Schreiber ("Everything is Illuminated", "The Sum of All Fears") as the main protagonist Robert Thorn, who faces the greatest of psychological and mental odds as he is faced with the son of the devil and has the obligation to kill the son that he raised. Mia Farrow, who is known for her role in the classic horror movie with a slightly similar theme "Rosemary's Baby" plays the role of Mrs. Baylock, a soft-spoken career nanny who is actually a disciple of the devil who intends to protect the demon son with her life. Her performance and her entire look is unsettlingly creepy in its simplicity. The role of Damien was played by Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick who has a look that can define a certain type of menacing intensity, a sort of stare of evil that really defines the character of Damien. In addition, the young actor also knows how to effectively balance his look of evil and his more cuter, more innocent instances.

Director John Moore was able to accomplish a fairly good remake. The scares are not very creepy, but it is the jumpy suspenseful shocks that score high on this film. What was particularly interesting about this version apart from the original is the tying in of relevant real-world events in which the Vatican characters conclude that these incidents may indeed be signs that indicate the return of the son of the Devil. THE OMEN may have been talking about the coming of the son of the devil, but it seems to have an impact that nobody cares. The Omen maybe a good horror movie to some, but in my meter, it still isn’t enough to raise hell.

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