- Gregory Peck as Robert Thorn
- Lee Remick as Katherine Thorn
- David Warner as Keith Jennings
- Harvey Stephens as Damien Thorn
- Billie Whitelaw as Mrs Baylock
- Patrick Troughton as Father Brennan
Laced with dread and filled with chilling scenes a plenty, The Omen has lost none of its original scares and continues to be a creepy film filled with doom-laden prophecies and slow-building horror that is extremely haunting.
Robert Thorn is a diplomat who is stationed in Rome. Whilst there he learns that his wife Katharine had a baby son who died in childbirth. Fearing what this may do to his wife and at the suggestion of an old priest, Robert secretly adopts a newly born orphan. The boy is named Damien and Katherine loves him dearly, though Robert is the only person who knows that the child isn’t her biological child. As Damien grows up and Robert is instated as Ambassador to Great Britain, strange events begin to occur. This begins with Damien’s young nanny gleefully hanging herself at his birthday party, exclaiming “It’s all for you Damien”. Damien reacts violently towards his parents attempting to take him into a church. When taken on a trip to the zoo, the animals run scared of the child and then proceed to attack the car. Mrs Baylock, a new nanny arrives on the scene with an alarming insistence on protecting the boy along with a sinister Rottweiler that guards him from others. Scared and unsure by these strange and unsettling events, he is confronted by Father Brennan, who warns him that Damien is not of this world and isn’t the little angel he appears to be. He is in fact the Antichrist, who will destroy mankind and rise up into power, according to a biblical prophecy. Robert doesn’t believe these claims at first, but as time goes by he begins to see the truth in them and the fact that he will have to kill Damien in order to protect the world from apocalypse. Helping Robert along the way in this terrifying journey of discovery is Keith Jennings, a photographer who has picked up the events from the photographs he has taken that contain subtle references to death. Ominous atmosphere, religious overtones and chilling menace all combine to make The Omen a chilling horror film to watch.
Richard Donner effortlessly crafts a ghoulish atmosphere of impending doom with his excellent direction. As the story unravels little by little, the tension is amped up by the creepy revelations surrounding Damien. Donner successfully exploits every parents worst nightmare that their child may be evil and with this gives us another iconic creepy movie child in the form of the angelic-looking Damien. We also get some inventive death scenes that still generate a fright, the most creepy being an unfortunate victim being impaled by a church spire. Suspenseful moments abound in The Omen, with the highlights being baboons attacking the car in which Damien is in and Robert and Keith being menaced in a deserted graveyard by vicious dogs. No review of The Omen would be complete without mentioning the exceptional score by Jerry Goldsmith, which combines pounding drums with chilling Latin chanting to create an atmosphere of religious themes and encroaching destruction. Goldsmith also manages to create lilting themes for the opening scenes of family joy which are then juxtaposed with the menace and dread brought about by Damien’s evil origins.
Gregory Peck is outstanding as Robert, whose past misdeed has come back to haunt him. We watch as he wrestles with the knowledge that he must kill Damien in order to stop the spread of evil. Peck admirably conveys the complex emotions of his character with assured dexterity and we genuinely feel his dilemma. Lee Remick embodies the anxiety and vulnerability as his wife, who is the first to suspect there is something not right with her boy. David Warner is suitably frightened but determined as the photographer who has noticed warnings in his pictures. And then of course we have Harvey Stephens as Damien. He is nothing short of mesmerizing as we watch through subtle gestures the extent of his evil, which is belied by his angelic face and innocent curls but hinted at by his ambiguous smiles. Billie Whitelaw is menace personified as Satan’s protector in the form of a nanny who will stop at nothing to ensure that her evil charge prevails in his legacy of doom. Patrick Troughton is intense and foreboding as the priest who warns of the harm Damien will inflict on the world if he isn’t stopped.
Chilling and frightening, The Omen is a horror film that isn’t to be missed for fans of the genre.