Monday, October 28, 2019

THE OMEN (2006) Blu-ray Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 26
Total First Time Views: 12
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,151.76

The Omen (2006) d. John Moore (USA) (109 min) (2nd viewing)

One of the few times in history where a calendar date (6/6/06) dictated a picture’s greenlight status, this remake of the 1976 classic generated a chorus of “pointless” from critics and audiences alike upon its release, even though it’s a capable enough effort. Considering how closely the redux hews to the original, it’s almost impossible not to compare/contrast; it feels like we’re being dared to, in fact. Since things play out nearly beat for beat, credit should be given for it not being a completely redundant experience, which it quite well could have been. But, while things are different, they are rarely improvements, and therein lies the hitch.

Where director Moore and David Seltzer (updating his own script) stumble is in trying to make a capital-s capital-m Scary Movie for an audience steeped in three decades of body count flicks, while overwriting expository dialogue instead of trusting the audience to understand character motivations. Even had they focused more on emotional drama than by-the-numbers shocks, however, it was unlikely they could have climbed out from under their predecessor’s long shadow.

First off, there is the obvious: Liev Schreiber, as fine an actor as he might be, lacks the gravitas and star power of Gregory Peck, and while this might seem an unfair comparison, the reason why the 1976 version worked as well as it did was due in large part to Peck’s presence. Much is made of the inexperience of Schreiber’s incarnation of Robert Thorn, making him the youngest U.S. Ambassador in history, but justification of youthful casting is not useful when what is required is a literal elder statesman, a man who has manifested his own destiny for decades, completely blindsided by his own hubris.

If the man who played Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird and Philip Green in Gentleman’s Agreement and Joe Bradley in Roman Holiday and Captain Ahab in Moby Dick and Sam Bowden in Cape Fear and Capt. O’Mallery in The Guns of Navarone and and and… if THAT man is shocked and terrified by the Satanic Situation presented, then viewers have no choice but to take it seriously as well. Schreiber, in contrast, was hardly a movie star at this point in his career and as such, through no fault of his own or his talents, lacks the same audience investment. (To a lesser extent, Stiles suffers from the same dilemma when compared to Lee Remick, though she does a capable enough job.)

The rest of the recasting ranges from fine to good, with David Thewlis as the acerbic reporter Jennings, Pete Postlewaite as the doomed Father Brennan, Giovanni Lombardo Radice (aka John Morghen aka the guy who dies all the horrible deaths in 1980s Italian horror flicks) is the singed Father Spilletto, and, in an inspired bit of casting, Rosemary herself, the elfin Mia Farrow, is on board as the nanny-from-Hell, Mrs. Baylock. (I also love the fact that she’s married.) None surpass their forebearers, but they’re all worthwhile and not distracting. (Except Michael Gambon as Bugenhagen, who is shameless in his scenery munching, and young Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien, saddled with cosmetic dark shadows under the eyes in place of Harvey Stephens’ cherubic innocence.)

The more spectacular death sequences from the original (Damien’s nanny’s suicide, Brennan’s church-spike impaling, Jennings’ beheading) are present and accounted for, all in suped-up, digitally sweetened fashion, with the reporter’s noggin loss reminiscent of a Final Destination outtake. It’s fun and gory, but yields a fraction of the original’s emotional punch. Speaking of which, I will concede that the cemetery attack from a devil-sent gaggle of Rottweilers does deliver one of the best jump scares, with a “dog-outa-friggin’-nowhere” sideswipe reminiscent of FD’s bus assault. (A less fortunate bit of computer-generated nonsense comes in the form of Mrs. Baylock meeting with the business end of Thorn’s sedan.)

There are also a number of flashy, almost subliminal nightmare sequences designed purely for cheap scares rather than any sense of lasting dread; that said, the cold-blooded hospital bed confrontation between Stiles and Farrow comes close to topping Remick’s high-rise fall.

As much as Schreiber has an impossible task of filling Peck’s shoes, composer Marco Beltrami must have been simply shaking his head at the notion of going head-to-head with Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-winning score. Like the rest of the film, it deserves points for not directly aping the original, but that’s about it.

In short, Omen 2006 feels like a film made for viewers with a prejudice against watching anything made more than 25 years prior… and made by studio executives who couldn’t bear to let a good marketing gimmick pass them by.


Audio Commentary with Director John Moore, Producer Glenn Williamson, and Editor Dan Zimmermann

Unrated Extended Scenes and Extended Ending

Omenisms – Behind the Scenes of The Omen (2006)

Abbey Road Recording Sessions Featurette

Revelation 666: Behind the Scenes

Theatrical Trailers

The Omen (2006) is available now on Blu-ray as part of Shout! Factory’s The Omen Collection box set (which also includes the 1976 original, Damien: Omen II, The Final Conflict, and Omen IV: The Awakening) and can be ordered HERE:

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