The Omen (1976) – 4/5

Creepy, darkly atmospheric film full of sudden, almost startling moments of violence that are never truly “scary” per se, but nonetheless make for a hair-raising viewing experience. The film is long, though, only really picking up in the last hour or so, and has become a bit of a victim of its own popularity as anyone even remotely familiar with pop culture will probably recognize most of the more shocking things that happen here, thus dulling their effect. At least it did with me. And it’s a shame, cause I imagine going into this blind would have been quite the experience. Stupid 2006 remake! Why did I have to watch you before watching the original!?! Why!!??

Anyway, the film is good; much, much better than the remake. Extremely well made and decently written, though slow at times. The soundtrack too is pretty strong, though a bit overused, especially during a few of the more “sinister” moments where the music is so over the top ridiculous that it’s almost comical. Music can enhance, sure, but it can also detract, and here, it manages to do both. More the former than the latter, luckily. The acting too is strong, even from Gregory Peck who actually manages to change facial expressions and vocal tones a few times throughout. I even think he cries at one point. A miracle! Like watching a wooden puppet come to life.

Overall, a good film. Tense and creepy and somewhat disturbing, especially in the latter half when the true identity of Damien’s mother is revealed. Didn’t see that coming. Come to think of it, that whole graveyard scene was pretty damn dark. It’s also the only surprise I hadn’t had spoiled for me over the years by pop culture, which makes sense given its rather twisted nature. Sure, the film is long and the plot is kind of silly when you stop to think about it, but it’s a credit to the talent of the filmmakers that it manages to stay as convincingly grounded in reality as it does. As crazy as it is, the film is dark and gritty and very realistic, which is quite the accomplishment for a movie that essentially begins with **SPOILERS** a priest handing Gregory Peck the child Satan impregnated a dog to create. **END SPOILERS** Totally nutty, but it works, and it’s disturbing. Recommended.

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