Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Omen

If it were possible to write a two-word review for The Omen, the most apt would certainly be: 'Don't go'. Since it's not always possible to escape with such brevity, the most accurate description of this Irishman's attempt to improve on perfection could best be described as a fiasco on a par with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho and The Fog. It really does seem that the movie's sole raison d'ĂȘtre was a 'scary' release date.

With the exception of 2004's Dawn of the Dead attempt, horror remakes are uniformly awful. The director is torn between terror at ruining the original's winning formula, and laughable ego-tripping towards creating his 'own vision'. The Omen, sadly, falls between these two perilous stools. John Moore seems to be valiantly attempting to show his numerous abilities behind the megaphone, but merely serves to highlight the fact that, even with a blueprint of the movie's direction in front of him, he still cannot pull together the strings of horror.

Pivotal to the movie's terror-inducing plan is the portrayal of a child as a truly demented being. The acting in this regard sadly fails on every level – Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick failing to evoke even the mildest sense of unease from his innocent face. Mostly, he seems very much like any child, albeit a bit more given to pouting and 'evil' glares at the camera – though nothing on the malevolent level one would expect from the Antichrist. His father, Liev Schreiber, manages the closest thing to acting one sees throughout the entire movie, though he seems to have closely based his every look and emotion on Gregory Peck's winning performance.

With the appearance of Pete Postlethwaite as the most over the top, hammy priest ever seen, the movie presents its biggest challenge yet – to avoid losing complete credibility at the halfway mark. If his appearance, all swinging crucifixes and Bible slogans, does not drive most right-thinking viewing members to the foyer, then Mia Farrow's manic nanny surely will. As a Satan worshipper she protects the little boy, even to the point of murder and death. The new addition of a pseudo-sexual relationship between her and the boy is probably the most disturbing element of the movie, fleeting though that suggestion is.

The acting is uniformly wooden, and here is the crux of the movie's disappointment: However much you attempt to evoke terror with flashy camera angles and jumpy moments, if your cast cannot hold it together enough to present a believable story then the movie is destined to wallow in video hell. The abysmal Julia Stiles tops off a less-than-stellar cast as Satan's unwitting mother, constantly seeking the camera, tears pouring down her face, showing us that 'look, look – I can act – I can show EMOTION'!!

Sadly, her efforts fail, for much the same reason as the entire movie fails - we have seen all of this before, and we have seen it done far better.

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