The Omen doesn’t rely on traditional horror “bumps and jumps” to frighten you. Instead, it frightens the bejesus out of you with a horrific premise, and goes from there.
Unbeknownst to her, Katherine Thorn’s newborn son died shortly after birth. Her husband Robert is convinced by the hospital’s priest to secretly adopt an orphaned baby and raise it as their own. Robert agrees to the deception, and the Thorn’s return home with their newborn son, Damien — who just so happens to be the Antichrist.
Early in the film we learn there’s something different about Damien. Animals react violently in his presence and he has a real issue with entering churches, but it’s not until we witness the boy’s nanny publicly hang herself in the middle of Damien’s birthday party that we see the real power he harnesses (whether he knows it or not).
Multiple people attempt to solve the mystery of Damien’s evil origins, the first of which is Father Brennan who actually knows the boy’s history. Damien’s father Robert dismisses Father Brennan as a crazy old man, but later teams up with journalist Keith Jennings who works Robert to solve the mystery when his photographs apparently begin to predict the deaths of people surrounding Damien. Eventually the two race to put an end to Damien before he can fulfill the biblical prophecy and rise to power. I’ll not say who prevails, but the first sequel to this film was called Damien: Omen II. And there were two more movies released after that one.
Horror films from the 1970s are typically slower-paced than modern films, but that works in The Omen’s favor. Damien’s evil slowly builds along with the film’s tension, and we as the audience must go along Robert Thorn’s personal journey as he goes from a protective father to a man being convinced that his son is literally the Antichrist — so convinced that he is willing to murder him.
The Omen is a definite horror classic. I didn’t see the 2006 remake because I feel like this one still stands up. It’s slow and brooding, but sometimes that’s how evil works.
(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)