Sommerleigh Pollonais – Horror Head Writer
In 1976 horror classic The Omen, mysterious deaths surround an American ambassador. Could the child that he is raising actually be the Antichrist? The Devil’s own son?
Fear is a strange thing. What frightens one will have no effect on another. I’ve never been afraid of the dark, snakes, creepy crawlers or ninety-nine percent of the horror movies I’ve seen. But The Omen made such an impact on me as a kid that I avoided rewatching it for years and years.
Directed Richard Donner is like that uncle who gives you cool toys (1978’s Superman) but also thinks it’s funny to scare the living daylights out of you. And that’s exactly what he did with this ode to arguably, the scariest sub-genre of horror that exists – supernatural horror.
Donner treated every aspect of this film with a level of severity and seriousness that fit the era, as back then most churches preached the possibility of going to Hell frequently (can’t begin to tell you how much this freaked me out as a kid) and you could see the same tone play out in similar films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. The cinematography has this eerie dreamlike quality to it in a lot of scenes and the acting is never anything less than dramatic.
But what I think really REALLY made this movie terrifying was the musical score. Don’t believe me? The soundtrack has an entire Wiki section dedicated to it and that’s not something you usually come across on an entry for a horror movie. Ave Satani (translation: Hail Satan) written by Jerry Goldsmith is still the most haunting and disturbing song I’ve ever heard put to film. It opens the movie and is played over the most disturbing scenes of the movie. Goldsmith one the only Oscar of his career for this piece of nightmare fuel, and honestly if I was to meet the man in person, I’m not sure if I would shake his hand or punch him in the twig and berries for traumatising me as a child.
Gregory Peck is the leading star of this iconic movie, but to be honest, he’s not the one I tend to remember when looking back on it. That award goes to actress Lee Remick who plays his wife and the unfortunate adopted mother of the anti-christ, Katherine Thorn. Like most women and mothers, she’s the one who first seems to realise the “strangeness” of young Damien, but her need to be a good Mom outweighs her doubts and tragically she pays the ultimate price for this.
Billie Whitelaw as Mrs. Baylock also turns in a legendary performance and its no wonder movie nerds Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost chose to give her a role in Hot Fuzz decades later. You never see the actual devil in this movie and you don’t need to with Mrs. Baylock filling the role quite nicely.
This has been only my third viewing of this movie and on a cinematic level, it has held up quite nicely, but the story itself does feel a bit overzealous with plot lines like Damien being placed with the Thorns for future political power feeling a tad on the nose. Still, The Omen will always hold a special place in my horror-loving heart, as one of the very few films to get under my skin in a way no other horror movie has ever done.
Well, maybe The Possession of Emily Rose. Hopefully I don’t have to rewatch THAT one further down the line.
Sommer’s Score: 7.5 out of 10
Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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