The Omen (1976)

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The Omen is available to rent or buy now.

“It’s all for you, Damian.”


Two years before he brought us the groundbreaking Superman the Movie, Richard Donner would oversee an equally groundbreaking horror. The Omen would not only redefine the devil on-screen but launch its own unique mythology by embracing the biblical story of the devil while cleverly placing it into the hands of a child. Here Donner would twist and transform the foundations of the satanic-themed horror. The Omen would take its inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist while creating its own religious-themed world of good and evil. Here The Omen would twist the innocence of childhood and the loving support of two parents into a gut-churning horror where the devil’s mark sat beneath a five-year-old boy’s thick black locks.

The Omen had a challenging journey to the screen, with nearly every major studio turning down what was then titled ‘Antichrist’. However, when Alan Ladd Junior saw the script at 20th Century Fox, he saw huge potential and enthusiastically encouraged Donner to flesh it out. Ladd would insist on a title change while asking Donner to create something more than just a bog-standard Hollywood horror. But Ladd’s real genius sat in changes he made to the screenplay’s final scenes as he ensured Damien’s survival.


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The Omen would create its own mythology due to an intelligent screenplay that dovetailed classic horror fiction with adapted religious scripture. The result was a unique take on the antichrist’s return to earth that would create its own religious iconography. As a result, The Omen cemented itself into public belief, with many of its fictional ideas held aloft as ancient spiritual truths.


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In The Omen, Richard Donner takes the 70s fascination with the occult and removes the horns, subverting the innocence of a child on-screen; here, The Omen joyously plays with every parent’s deepest fears as two good people discover their son is not what they thought him to be. But the finale cemented its place as one of the finest horrors ever made as a father faced the terror of an impossible choice; the life of his child versus the welfare and lives of others. Meanwhile, stories and rumours of a deadly curse would only strengthen its advertising and box office pull while equally earning it a place in cinematic folklore. However, in the end, it is the audience’s reaction to the devil in kid’s clothes that makes The Omen a game-changing and compelling slice of spiritual horror.


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