The Omen has become less of a horror movie and much more an iconic thriller. The first box you have to tick if you are going to make a horror film is “scare people” and unfortunately, The Omen doesn’t really do that. There are no jump out of your skin moments like this year’s Woman in Black or even tense, creepy moments where you are waiting for something bad to happen, like the Paranormal Activity series has become expert at.
Instead, we get a film that tells a horror story. Its more like watching a ghost story unfold, a supernatural, interesting tale, rather than a film trying to make you scream or give you nightmares. It’s probably a victim of the time it was released. The graphic suicide, falling spires and creepy undertone would be enough to unnerve an audience who are at the beginning of being exposed to outright horror.
Viewing The Omen now, you actually watch it for the iconic film it has become. You are never really going to be scared by the movie but it could definitely be described as a chiller. The story of a small boy who may actually be the son of Satan, and the effects on those around him, offer many amazingly creepy moments that have placed themselves in iconic scene history.
The best example of this is the scene on the tricycle, with little Damien riding around the hallway, his Mother balancing precariously on a table trying to fix a hanging basket. The rest is self-explanatory or a surprise for those that can’t figure it out, but its one example of the many sinister, rather than scary moments, that The Omen offers.
It’s a testament to how iconic The Omen is that you can see its influence on horror films today. The best example is the way in which a photograph seems to offer a glimpse at a persons demise. Used very well as a story device here, it becomes a similar, but much more integral device, for the Final Destination movies. It’s just one example of how The Omen has managed to transcend and influence even the more recent of horror films.
The casting helps this along even further. For starters, Harvey Stephens, as Damien, is a perfect choice. He balances innocent and then finally, sinister, perfectly, whether he is aware of what he is doing or not. It’s the casting of the male lead, Gregory Peck, which is the best choice. It surprises me that he made a film like this, particularly because he plays such clean-cut and heroic characters in his other types of films. This role would require him to try to kill a child and it helps that it’s happening to someone you wouldn’t necessarily associate with this type of role.
It’s the iconic status of the film that is ultimately the main reason you should watch the movie. It’s a good film but not exceptional. Its more a film that strings together fantastic and memorable moments, wrapped around a decent enough and intriguing enough story. It’s not a film to watch if you want a good scare because it never really offers those moments.
Overall, The Omen is an iconic chiller which demonstrates some of the most iconic scenes a movie has to offer. Its worth watching for the goldfish bowl scene or to see the origin of the “mark of the beast” and the sinister connotation the name Damien has associated with it. It just shouldn’t be viewed if you want a good scare.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)