31 Days of Hallowe’en 2018, Day 19: The Omen [1976]

the omen, 1976, gregory peck, horror, horror films, horror movies, film, films, movies, halloween,

As a kid, Gregory Peck was THE dad figure, because I only knew him from To Kill a Mockingbird. He was calm, measured, fair, firm, altruistic, and the role model for any aspiring liberal. Because of that I felt that his line delivery was always the same, that he would always play the same characters. So it’s amusingly jarring to see him swap out his wife’s stillborn baby with a strange one and then have to deal with it literally being the son of Satan.

The Omen is another classic I’d yet to see. And now that I have, hoo boy. I have recently developed a trigger that was set off quite disastrously by a scene in (the excellent) Hereditary, and now, this movie. Luckily I’m coping with it better, but it makes this film one of the best I never want to see again. A testament to its longevity.

In fact, the only thing that makes this dated is the Don’t Look Now-style music, over its fuzzy montages and vintage camera angles. But in a way that makes it more intense, reminding me that a film from before I was born can just effectively scare the shit out of me as one from 2018.

Every performance is great, but Harvey Stephens as little Damien is the most unnerving little brat this side of Martin Stephens in (the timeless) The Innocents. After typing this, I realise they have the same last name, and now I’m even more creeped out. Seriously. Two chillingly unsettling child actor performances and they have the same surname? Stop this bus, I want to get off. Anyway, they aren’t related (please please please?), but H. Stephens toes the pitter patter of his teeny feet back and forth over the line between sweetly vulnerable and demonically terrifying. The storytelling bolsters this – we never see Damien’s head spin or speak in an unnatural tone, making the prospect of killing him the most genius idea Satan has ever had.

It was a fun movie for the likes of me to unpack, and a classic that deserves its reverence. But I doubt I’ll ever be seeing it again.

Score:ย ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

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