The Omen is available to rent or buy now
Two years before he brought us the groundbreaking Superman the Movie, Richard Donner would oversee an equally groundbreaking horror. One that not only redefined the devil on-screen but also launched its own unique mythology. By embracing the biblical story of the devil, while cleverly placing it into the hands of a child, Donner would twist and contort the foundations of all previous satanic movies. The Omen would take inspiration from Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist while creating its own religious world of good and evil. And while Donner’s Superman just two years later would celebrate the joy of a couple adopting a child with extraordinary talents, The Omen would twist this concept into a gut-churning horror.
However, The Omen had a rough ride to the screen, with nearly every major studio turning down the then titled ‘Antichrist’. That was until Alan Ladd Junior saw the script at 20th Century Fox. Ladd was enthusiastic and completely trusted Donner, but on agreeing to finance the film, he insisted on a title change and something more than a pure Hollywood horror. Ladd wanted the newly titled The Omen to carry a mysterious atmosphere, embracing the thriller genre over shocks and gore. Plus, in a stroke of genius, Ladd would insist on Damien’s survival, flipping the original ending.
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The Omen created its own mythology, primarily due to an intelligent screenplay that dovetailed classic fiction with religion. The result provides a unique take on the antichrist’s return to earth while creating its own religious text and legend. As a result, The Omen has cemented itself into public belief; many of its fictional 1970s ideas, held aloft as ancient spiritual truths.
Richard Donner takes the 70s fascination with the occult and removes the horns, subverting the innocence of a child on-screen. 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. Here, the final scene is bathed in the terror of an impossible choice; the life of your child versus the welfare and lives of others. Richard Donner’s masterpiece of horror cleverly implants its ideas into the global imagination. The stories and rumours of its deadly curse only strengthening its place in modern cinematic folklore. While the audience cowers behind their hands as a young nanny shouts, “It’s all for you, Damian”, before hurling herself from a second-story window.