The Omen. I love it, love all of it. But 1976 is what....like almost 40 years old, right? Let's pointlessly remake it!!! Here's 2006's The Omen.
A rising star in politics, Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) and his wife, Kate (Julia Stiles), are expecting a child but there are complications during the birth and the baby dies. A priest at the hospital tells Robert something though. A mother died giving birth the same night, but her infant son survived. With Kate having experienced some serious medical issues in getting pregnant, Robert agrees to take the child as their own...without telling Kate. Robert continues to rise through the political ranks -- even becoming the United States ambassador to England -- as their son, Damien, grows up. As the boy gets older though, Kate begins to notice a string of odd incidents plaguing the boy from a shocking death of his nanny to other extremely difficult things to explain. Robert is stunned when a panicked priest hits him with a revelation. He believes Damien is the son of the Devil, the Antichrist. There's no way it could be true, right?
So why remake the original The Omen? Well, other than the money. As near as I can find out through some Internet digging, it was for a gimmick. The 2006 Omen was released on June 6, 2006 at 6:06.06 in the morning. In other words? lots of 666, the number of the beast. Yeah, yeah, it is a cool gimmick but seriously? Making a movie so it could be released on the sixth day of the sixth month of the sixth year? Come on now. You've gotta come up with something better than that. It did okay in theaters, getting mostly negative reviews but still making $120 million at the box office. If you are going to make a remake of a classic, you should try something new. Do something different.
And that's where we sit. Director John Moore is at the lead of a horror flick that doesn't do much at all to differentiate from the 1976 original. There are a couple changes -- some nightmares for Kate, a reliance on bright, vivid colors to foreshadow impending doom -- but as a whole, this is an almost scene-for-scene remake of the original. The story is virtually identical, whole scenes of dialogue are repeated, and the biggest difference ends up being how certain characters are dispatched (in Final Destination mode). It's creepy, unsettling and legitimately scary at different points with several very good jump out of your seat moments. But...if you've seen the original, you've seen this movie. Some minor differences overall, but mostly, this is the same film.
How about some casting? Liev Schreiber is one of my favorite actors around, and he's got some big shoes to fill here playing the Gregory Peck part. He's got the best performance in this horror remake, an underplayed part focused on the extreme disbelief of the news he receives about his son. No father wants to believe his son/daughter is evil or bad, much less the Antichrist himself. Stiles doesn't come off as well, a performance that is missing something. It feels forced and overdone. Young Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is very creepy as the possibly evil Damien, his cold, icy stares putting him firmly in the 'Creepy Kids in Movies' department. Also look for David Thewlis as Jennings, a photographer who may know the truth about Damien, Mia Farrow as Miss Baylock, Damien's sinister nanny, Pete Postlethwaite as Father Brennan, a possibly unhinged priest, and Michael Gambon as Bugenhagen, an archaeologist and exorcist.
Look, as I mentioned, this isn't a bad movie. Far from it. It's professionally done, creepy, unsettling and genuinely scary. The score isn't as good, not quite as memorable as Jerry Goldsmith's original score, but the look of the movie is solid. Dark, gloomy, rainy and foreboding, it does add a dimension to the Satanic story. There was no reason to remake it though, especially if the new version is going to stick so close to its predecessor. Maybe viewers unfamiliar with the 1976 original will enjoy it more. I didn't dislike it, but it's okay at best and not much more.
The Omen (2006): **/****