The remake wagon made a stop in town earlier in 2006, and dropped off an all-new, super-slick update of 1976’s The Omen. The film actually got some solid reviews, with many critics and filmgoers praising the remake’s faithfulness to the original, and, while that piqued my interest, I still couldn’t get past the pictures of this new kid they chose to play Damien. I still can’t.
Robert Thorn (Schrieber) arrives at the hospital to find out that his wife, Katherine (Stiles), has unknowingly had a miscarriage. Robert is devastated as this child has meant the world to his wife, and decides to take the advice of the priest who is counseling him and replace their baby with another child whose own mother had died giving birth to him. It seems to make sense, after all; Katherine is without a child, the child is without a mother, and Robert, well, he just wants everyone to be happy. And they are…
You see, as young Damien grows, so does the fear within Katherine that this boy is not her child. She can’t quite put her finger on it, though. Perhaps it’s the way monkeys react to him at the zoo? Or maybe it’s the crazy way his nannies hang themselves at birthday parties. Whatever the reasoning, Robert doesn’t seem to notice anything at all, being that a series of convenient accidents has led him to the office of ambassador to Great Britain. He’s too busy to notice, really, especially lately, with all of the kooky religious types warning him that his son may, in fact, be the antichrist.
I’ve never been a really huge fan of The Omen flicks, but the first entry in the series does have a decent amount of scares thanks, especially, to the wee lad they chose to play the son of Satan. That kid was just so out there; so seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was even in a movie, that he had me believing that he was the antichrist. He barely said two coherent words in the entire film, but that kid’s eyes…man, the blackest eyes.
Like a doll’s eyes…
Err…where was I?
Oh yeah! Such is not the case with The Omen of 2006. Seamus-Davey Fitzpatrick is not remotely scary looking, and does little but look into the camera with a trembling lower-lip that always seems a spasm away from betraying a smile. You know when a kid pretends he’s crying because you won’t let him watch the tenth Spongebob Squarepants episode of the afternoon, but you can tell he’s faking it ‘cause he’s got that sort of “almost smile” that you try to joke out of them before they actually cross over into a full-blown tantrum? Yeah, well, that’s what this kid looks like.
All the time.
It’s a shame, really, ‘cause the rest of the film looks fantastic, and has a really solid cast lead by Schrieber, who, as always, is gold. Stiles does much better than I expected (I was concerned she’d start dancing on tables or something, and, is it me, or does she look like she's taken a shovel to the forehead once or twice?), and Thewlis, Postlethwaite, and Farrow make one hell of a supporting cast. But alas, the film is about Damien, and when your Damien looks like he’s about to giggle uncontrollably and blurt out “Me make poopies!” it just ain’t going to cut it.
The DVD from Fox offers a commentary track featuring director John Moore, producer Glenn Williamson and editor Dan Zimmerman. They all seem positively terrified by Fitzpatrick, but, then again, I doubt they're going to say something like "Boy howdy, did we fuck up casting this thing, eh?" (although I'd pay good money to hear that). There's also a group of featurettes, and a theatrical trailer. Not really the mother lode in terms of extras, but a decent haul.
The Omen '06 isn't a total loss as there are some decent scares (and a really nice decapitation), but whoever cast this kid as Damien Thorn should never be allowed near a movie set again, lest it be to sweep up after the catering crew. I said it the minute they released the tyke's picture back in the pre-production days, and I'll say it again; he just ain't scary, no matter how dark you dye his hair. I'm sure he's a perfectly nice young boy...and... well....that's the problem.