This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Like the child Antichrist on its original poster, The Omen casts a long shadow. Gleefully tapping into Biblical prophecy for the sake of churning out a big-budget horror film, it benefitted from being made at a time when thanks to the likes of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist a big ol’ Satan-themed horror movie had a shot of actually getting a big fat budget. But with each repeated sequel, the dark promise of the original progressively faded until the series limped to a close in 1981 (with a 1991 TV movie and a 2006 remake attempt failing to rekindle the franchise’s fortunes).
Now A&E are apparently intending to remake the story of Damien Thorn as a TV series, so it’s about time to give the original trilogy another look. Did The Omen point to anything of substance, or was it just all sound and fury signifying nothing?
It’s 6 am on June 6th, in Rome, and American diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) is dealing with an absolutely miserable situation: his newborn son died shortly after childbirth, and he has absolutely no idea how he is going to break this to his wife Katherine (Lee Remick). A priest at the Church-run hospital that the maternity ward is housed in makes a curious suggestion: by sheer coincidence, another child was born in the ward at the same time, a child whose mother died at right about the same time that the Thorns’ baby did. Why not adopt? Katherine need never know; if anything, it would be a kindness not to tell her.
Some years later, Robert is appointed US ambassador to the UK, giving the family the chance to move out of their admittedly luxurious Rome apartment into a grand stately home in the English countryside. It’s all very idyllic, and as time passes Damien Thorn grows to become a charming little boy – a little quiet, maybe, but more than capable of playing happily with his friends.