Why ‘The Omen’ Hasn’t Lost its Tragic Magic
Richard Donner’s The Omen doesn’t make parenting look easy. In fact, it makes it look like a living hell.
Richard Donner’s The Omen doesn’t make parenting look easy. In fact, it makes it look like a living hell. First, imagine you, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) stand to possibly become US Ambassador to the UK (and if you have rich parents, this might come easier to you). Things seem to be going well, right? You even get your wife Katherine (the beautiful Lee Remick) pregnant — which you likely didn’t mind doing, especially when you aspire to be a loving father. However, about nine months later, things start going wrong.
Imagine Katherine loses the child at birth, then the hospital chaplain secretly offers you another child, so your wife doesn’t have to know. If you accept such an offer, how would you feel about it? Well, chances are you’d have mixed feellings already. However, let’s say that, over time, you get strange feelings about this replacement kid, who you have named Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens). Curiously, he never gets sick or seems to have headaches. Then, your hired nanny (Holly Palance) then makes a rash decision at your son’s birthday party (to put it nicely), permanently weirding you out about birthday cakes.
It doesn’t stop there, however. You’re being pestered by some warped old Priest (Patrick Troughton). Damien freaks out about attending a wedding ceremony at a church, fighting his mother violently before he can be brought onto the steps of the cathedral. Your wife also finds out that zoo animals are terrified of your boy, with giraffes fleeing and baboons threatening to attack her car in the safari park.
What the hell is going on? Also, what does that weird photographer guy (David Warner) want? Between him, that Priest, your wife’s depression, and this new nanny (Billie Whitelaw) who’s too obsessed with her dog, you must emphatically ask again: What the hell is going on?!
Wait For It…
Hell is exactly what is going on! It seems your wife is right to regard Damien like an alien presence. He’s not just a bad boy, a slacker, or a struggling musician. As “The Omen” presses on, much of the subtlety disappears, and the happy family seems lost for all time. The mood of this film also lends weight to it. For example, its haunting score, provided by the brilliant Jerry Goldsmith. As the choral voices chant in a sinister fashion, you really don’t need the words translated into English to sense the foreboding of evil (Goldsmith won his only Oscar for this score, by the way).
This movie has been identified for quite some time as a horror classic, and it conveys a lot of traditional horror moods. Nevertheless, “The Omen” doesn’t provide some masked, hulking villain at a campsite or a beast who comes out only under a full moon. Sure, this film has some far-fetched elements, but its somber tones and incrementally evil atmosphere are hard to match.
In fact, it’s so hard to duplicate that, if you really think about it, The Omen hasn’t really been touched much by parodies. It’s like even dumb-ass horror-comedy goofballs are like, “Nah, we should just leave that classic film alone.” It doesn’t help that the film’s production was considered to be cursed.
Overlooked Political Details of The Omen?
Okay, okay, I might be building this movie up too much for first-time viewers. But why the uproar? Well, with The Omen, there’s a little more than meets the eye. There are little subplots you might find, if you’re careful enough to look. For example, this movie actually does delve into politics, ever-so-slightly. Or is it all subtle? Actually, The Omen strongly suggests that evil arises from the world of politics. In fact, Peck’s character is right alongside it, and he actually seems like a relatively good, normal guy. It’s even suggested that the evil nature of his position is practically inevitable. It will lead to turmoil.
Granted, Damien exists as sort of a symbolic element, but this hardly even qualifies as a “crazy fan theory” regarding the first film. There are other hints of underlying political strain. Robert and Katherine are generally on the serious side, and they often end up in some needlessly tense conversations. While this could be a commentary on the characters themselves, and their unique situation, it no doubt also comments on the high-stress nature of his position. Though it initially seems they’ll have it easy, it seems the two are never quite happy. Reality keeps raining on their parade, and Damien’s hidden nature also represents the dark secrets people keep.
Also, let’s be real: Katherine seems like the type who ends up shouting at her servants, especially when her husband is away. She might not be a villain, but she seems to have disdain for people below her “station” in life. This aspect of the story isn’t exactly prominent, but you can see how she regards the nanny during that one key scene. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that such an exchange occurred.
The Great Dilemma and What Wouldn’t Have Worked in the Story
At one point in The Omen, Robert almost walks away from his newfound and terrible responsibility. Damien initially had a loving adoptive family, but now that Robert knows the truth, can he do what he knows must be done? Now, obviously, a movie could be written about a zillion different ways. David Seltzer could have introduced so many elements making this movie far less serious and impactful.
Imagine, if you will. Mr. Thorn getting a little help from a cocky vampire named Andy before he runs out of time. Now that addition would suck, right? My suggesting that could make you roll your eyes, ask, “What in the hell is he thinking by introducing that idea?!” Well, that’s exactly my point. It would’ve been absurd to make this movie any less serious.
The story was very enjoyable for what it was, and part of the drama is the horror, and vice versa. There’s also no movie quite like it. Perhaps it’s not the greatest horror film of all time, but you can’t quite say it’s predictable, and in some ways very interesting. It seems the average first-time viewer will be curious to find out what happens next. It’s safe to say there’s still a lot of mystery in this one, too. Fortunately, it’s safe to rewatch this every so often, too, although it’ll never have the same impact as that first viewing.
What arte your thoughts on The Omen? It’s all for you in the comments!
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023), a Film Review
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is an award-winning sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster (2023) is a sci-fi horror film directed and written by Bomani J. Story. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this unrated and award-winning film stars Laya DeLeon Hayes, Denzel Whitaker, Chad L. Coleman, Reilly Brooke Stith, and Amani Summer. As of this review, interested viewers can enjoy this film from Shudder with additional availability through purchase or rent.
After a sequence of tragedies and loss, Vicaria (Laya DeLeon Hayes) seeks to cure death. Despite her genius earning her a private school education, few take this ambition seriously. Those who see it think of her only as an example of a girl separated from reality. But all that changes when she has a breakthrough. Unfortunately for her, the systemic issues that oppress her neighborhood can’t be solved as simply as curing death.
What I Like about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster and Recognition Earned
This film received nominations from four separate film festivals. It won Best Narrative Feature by the Calgary Underground Film Festival and Best Horror / Sci Fi from Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival. In addition, it received nominations for Best Narrative Feature from the Atlanta Film Festival and a nomination from the SXSW Film Festival.
The beautifully shot scenes earn respect, and the cast remains strong throughout. While Laya DeLeon Hayes executes the most demanding role, Reilly Brooke Stith (Aisha) and Amani Summer (Jada) elevate their material.
The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster dips its commentary into several hot topics. While I would have liked to see further exploration, it deals with scientific responsibilities, systemic issues facing Black Americans, and more. Needless to say, this film has ambition.
While particular elements vary in execution, this remains a unique approach to the dehumanization of these racist and systemic issues while telling an engaging story in the process. While I wouldn’t consider this an arthouse film, it dips into that category in many ways.
Tired Tropes, Trigger Warnings, and Considerations
For a better viewing experience, don’t take the film with the utmost realism in mind. An example of what I mean is how easily and unnoticed bodies are moved and hidden. As a metaphor or motif, it works better to serve the overall message.
As mentioned, many systemic issues come to light within the story, with varying levels of depth. Some examples include racial profiling, police violence, and microaggressions that stretch the “micro” aspect of the word. I also want to clarify that the film focuses on Vicaria’s personal story, using these experiences when applicable to the plot.
Drug addiction and gang violence play prominent roles in the plot. As mentioned above, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster addresses many of the systemic issues that make a thriving drug industry as opposed to dehumanizing those participating in it.
The titular Monster evokes levels of realistic body horror. While it’s not particularly extensive, the rot remains present and vivid. Partly related, the film creates a surprisingly gory story.
What I Dislike about The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster
Several plot points remain underdeveloped or underexplored. This choice might indicate sequel material, but I don’t think that’s the case here. For example, viewers hear about a “body snatcher,” but the narrative doesn’t build the mystery until the end. Perhaps this requires a slightly longer run time, but it also could be cut with some edits to the script.
Her Monster didn’t particularly evoke fear. The rot evokes disgust but not terror. The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains more focused on the story than the horror.
For those looking for horror rooted in real issues but not afraid to delve into the absurd, The Angry Black Girl and Her Monster remains a strong choice. While it might not evoke the terror and haunting we horror fans hope for, the bittersweet film certainly provides many reasons to give this film a view.
(4 / 5)
Blood Flower (2022), a Film Review
Blood Flower (2022) is a Malaysian supernatural horror film directed by Dain Said. Originally titled Harum Malam.
Blood Flower (2022) is a Malaysian supernatural horror film directed by Dain Said. Originally titled Harum Malam, the film stars Idan Aedan, Bront Palarae, and Remy Ishak. As of this review, the film is available on Shudder and AMC+ with additional availability for rent or purchase.
After a family tragedy, Iqbal (Idan Aedan) has trouble finding focus as an apprentice healer. His family remains in shambles, and Iqbal struggles to find a purpose in the wake of this change. As his father (Bront Palarae as Norman) finds temporary work helping a family friend, a terrible horror becomes unleashed. Now, Iqbal must overcome his internal turmoil or lose even more.
What I Like in Blood Flower
The horror evoked here has some elements of fabulism with a heavy emphasis on the supernatural component. In general, I like the established world and how this supernatural element connects to the characters’ development.
Throughout Blood Flower, the acting remains consistent and engaging. The relationship between Norman and Iqbal, which provides the heart of the film, remains a particularly well-executed point. Even when the writing falls short, the acting wins me over more often than not.
The film builds up its horror, which elevates the execution and overall effect. I won’t claim that the horror truly haunts the viewer, but it remains unsettling and, even uncomfortable, throughout.
As for the design of the monster, it works. There are points that remain strong, forcing a rather uncomfortable visual or experience that provides an effective execution of Blood Flower’s vision. One especially effective choice is including stop motion in some of the scenes. This visual creates a somewhat jarring feel to the supernatural entity that still lingers in my mind.
Tired Tropes and Trigger Warnings
Blood Flower includes sexual assaults that remain clunkily included in the plot. When dealing with such material, especially when it remains essential to the story, the execution makes or breaks the quality. Unfortunately, the execution feels rushed and more for the shock of the reveal.
Possession-assisted suicide remains an element within the film. While I think the distance between such harm and the context of the film doesn’t rise above confusion, it deserves a mention in this section.
There are general decisions made for the sake of the plot. While this can fall into the dislike section, it’s within a range so as to not completely distract or undermine the viewing experience.
If any of these are deal breakers, then Blood Flower might be a skip.
What I Dislike in Blood Flower
Where this movie falls short is building up some of its elements to their conclusion by the end of the film. The previously mentioned sexual assaults make for a strong example, but another remains the human villain. As they are the reason for the monster, I am surprised by the general lack of attention and presence the character receives.
Iqbal unlocking his power feels underwhelming and lacks any real visuals or style. We have magic and special effects, but his power consists of holding out his hand. The issue lies in the execution, not the actor, as Idan Aedan does everything he can with the given command.
Going into the previous points, a spiritual master helps Iqbal train to become a healer. This person isn’t the one who unlocks their power. I still wonder why so little development on this important point remains in the film.
Blood Flower, or Harum Malam, remains an interesting supernatural horror that drops its execution towards the end. It provides a unique viewing experience with equal parts ingenuity and creativity to provide an effective horror. But it remains a flawed work with some wasted potential. Still, it earns its runtime for those interested in Malaysian horror.
(2.5 / 5)
Night’s End (2022), a Film Review
Night’s End (2022) is a supernatural horror film directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Brett Neveu, starring Geno Walker.
Night’s End (2022) is a supernatural horror film directed by Jennifer Reeder and written by Brett Neveu. The cast of this film includes Geno Walker, Kate Arrington, Felonious Munk, Lawrence Grimm, and Michael Shannon. As of this review, this film remains accessible to Shudder and AMC+ subscribers.
Recently divorced and looking to start anew, Ken Barber (Geno Walker) passes the time by making YouTube videos. It soon becomes apparent that one of his videos catches something strange. The further he investigates this mystery, the more aggressive this phenomenon becomes. Despite making him an online sensation, it forces him to acquire help from unlikely sources.
What I Like about Night’s End
Night’s End provides the innovation and execution of a film on a tight budget and clear message. It brings out all the best qualities of a B film that understands what it wants to do. The setting remains a perfect example of this ingenuity, containing itself within Ken Barber’s apartment and using Zoom calls to add additional cast members.
Unrelated to the horror, I like the chemistry between Kate Arrington (as ex-wife Kelsey Dees) and Geno Walker. It’s not often we find an ex-wife depicted as a good person character, and when that does happen, it’s usually because he will win her over by the end of the story. This film doesn’t fall into these tropes. A similar point applies to the new husband, Isaac Dees (Michael Shannon).
There’s a psychological component to the horror, which improves the supernatural elements. While it does linger on Ken Barber’s ongoing battle with mental illness, Night’s End doesn’t exactly use this as an excuse to undermine what the viewer sees.
While there are some execution issues I will discuss, Night’s End provides a tight script and quality performance from its cast. Geno Walker’s Ken Barber requires a believable and complex performance for success, and the actor rises to the challenge.
Tired Tropes and Triggers
The biggest disclaimer remains the character’s mental health struggles. While I believe the film refutes many of the dangerous mentally ill tropes, it still allows for some degree of gaslighting. I also think it hints at a few potential issues without exploring any with greater depth. I noted potential alcoholism, OCD, and agoraphobia. But none of these are given too much attention, for better or worse.
Some minor body horror moments might be difficult for squeamish horror fans. However, it hardly makes it a proper introduction to the niche.
If these are deal breakers, perhaps Night’s End won’t satisfy your viewing needs.
What I Dislike about Night’s End
Night’s End goes so far in strategically applying its budget but provides a few scenes with bad CGI. If it had more style, I’d give it a B movie pass. But it’s just not substantive enough for that pass. While some CGI and special effects remain better than others, the film leans on lower quality.
Toward the end of the film, the characters allow the villain to do some random and weird things with little pushback. Only one person consistently pushes back against the growingly strange requests and receives so little screen time. Some of these people are supposedly experts in supernatural affairs or amateur enthusiasts. Regardless, anyone should have issues with some of these requests toward the conclusion.
While the film remains scary at points, it doesn’t terrify its audience. While the final moments pay off the build-up, we don’t particularly linger on the ramifications.
Night’s End provides a charming but not horrifying supernatural thrill. Ken makes a unique protagonist, struggling to overcome his issues as others seek to exploit him and bring about chaos. It remains an uncommon viewing experience but lacks the weight of a haunting horror.
(3 / 5)