This latest unnecessary remake of a minor horror flick lacks even the benefit of novelty, strictly conforming to the script of the 1976 original, which in and of itself was hardly memorable. The plot, for the unfamiliar, still follows an American ambassador in Rome (played here by Liev Schreiber) and his wife (Julia Stiles, who seems a little too young for the part) that both discover, to their horror, their child is the Antichrist. But since little Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) is depicted here as a pale, sallow youth with blank hatred in his eyes, a grim little mouth, and dispassionate calm, it’s a wonder his parents continually ponder aloud, “What’s wrong with Damien?” This was ridiculous in the original film, considering the chaos that surrounds Damien wherever he goes, whether he’s on a trip to the zoo (animals go mad), his birthday party (nanny jumps off the roof and hangs herself), or in church (throwing mad tantrums), putting the audience multiple steps ahead of his nincompoop parents. But casting a child actor and directing him to portray one-dimensional blank meanness only serves to make the other characters seem even stupider. The many great British character actors casually slumming here (David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, and Michael Gambon) wander into scenes shouting, “Just kill the damned kid already!” before they’re dispatched, mostly via cheap-looking computer generated decapitations and lightning rods through the heart. Mia Farrow camps it up mercilessly as the ambassador’s evil, devil-worshipping housekeeper, and she’s a long way from Rosemary’s Baby when she’s racing straight into an oncoming car brandishing a fire axe. And some 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina footage pops up in such an inane way—as signs of the apocalypse during a Vatican slide show—that I couldn’t even get it up to be offended. The Omen is a slapdash affair meant to make a lot of money come opening weekend. It’s laziness on the part of a studio that dusts off the tried and true, recasts the picture with affordable talent, drops in loud sound effects and rapid-style editing for the younger audience, and doesn’t give a damn for any lasting value in their product. Will the real Antichrist please stand up?
- John Moore
- David Seltzer
- Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Gambon, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick
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