The Omen

Dir: Richard Donner
Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Patrick Troughton

This film is likely why I've never met anyone called 'Damien' who was born after 1976. Though a relatively late-comer in the satanic genre, it still retains a lot of power, not least thanks to Jerry Goldsmith's fine, creepy score. Peck also deserves credit for a convincing performance as American diplomat Thorn, who switches his dead son for another child, only to find death, a scary Rottweiler and an even scarier nanny following in his wake. You do need to suspend your disbelief a little (sure, the American ambassador would go alone to a park meeting with a loony priest), and the body-count is low - but the deaths pack a wallop, and the performances are all pitched at the right level from doubt to near-hysteria.

The main problem is that the film needs the sequels - here, Damien is a passive participant, the only time you feel he might be Satan's son is his hissy-fit approaching a church. The rest of the time, he's just a slightly weird kid who stares a lot; living in a house with two teenagers, it takes more than that to frighten me. Still, its cultural impact is such that, 22 years later, South Park could parody it (Damien turns Kenny into a platypus) without worrying about whether we got the joke. Weird-and-possibly-true story: After filming, FX supervisor John Richardson went to Holland to work on A Bridge Too Far. He and his assistant were involved in a car crash; she was decapitated, echoing a scene in the film he'd just completed, he was knocked unconscious. When he awoke, he supposedly saw a sign reading 'Ommen: 20km'...


And this is what the Devil does...
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