“What could be wrong with our child? We’re beautiful people, aren’t we?”
When his wife (Lee Remick) loses her baby during childbirth, a diplomat (Gregory Peck) is urged by a hospital’s chaplain (Martin Benson) to secretly give her a replacement baby whose mom has just died. Soon, however, their son Damien (Harvey Stephens) — cared for by a nefarious new nanny (Billie Whitelaw) and her big black dog — begins showing distressing signs of evil; and when a mysterious priest (Patrick Troughton) repeatedly warns Peck that he must investigate the truth behind his adopted son’s birth, Peck enlists the help of a journalist (David Warner) in learning more.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Amateur Sleuths
- Evil Kids
- Gregory Peck Films
- Lee Remick Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that this “big-budget horror film, given class by a distinguished cast, starts out well, but becomes extremely unpleasant”, with the deaths “repugnant” — “particularly a decapitation (a scene known for its effective special effect).” Peary goes on to write that, “In The Exorcist, God defeats Satan; in Val Lewton’s films, God and the devil fight to a stalemate; but this picture joins Rosemary’s Baby and other recent films in which the devil emerges triumphant — it’s part of a depressing subgenre.” While I agree with Peary that the deaths become increasingly “unpleasant” (and a particular plot twist will sit like a lump in your stomach), it seems to me they’re part and parcel of how a tale like this would be told. The inherent tension of the story — starting with Peck deceiving his wife in such a profound way — carries the narrative along, as we watch the unbearable discomfort of a woman fearing her own son:
… and Peck’s eventual realization that he will have to take unthinkably drastic actions. Of special note is Billie Whitelaw as Damien’s nanny; she steals the show each moment she’s on screen.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Billie Whitelaw as Mrs. Baylock
- Gregory Peck as Robert Thorn
- Lee Remick as Katherine Thorn
- Atmospheric cinematography and sets
- Many creepy and/or horrific moments
- Jerry Goldsmith’s score
No, but it’s definitely worth a one-time look.
2 thoughts on “Omen, The (1976)”
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Classic. First saw this on a B&W portable and it scared the heck out of me (age 16). Massively influential on the horror genre so definitely a must see.
Surprisingly sluggish early on and then in spots throughout the film. Unlike its predecessors (‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘The Exorcist’), ‘The Omen’ seems to want to suggest that the materialization of Satan’s existence is not enough – and that there needs to be a larger ‘point’ involved.
So the film is peppered with a series of tragic incidents (as well as manufactured mumbo jumbo), leading to the unraveling of the Satanic World Plan.
All of this plays out in conjunction with a labored attempt at uncovering Damien’s backstory – a venture not only superfluous but devoid of dramatic value.
No doubt the talented Whitelaw had fun being creepy.