The Omen Remake: Devil of an Opportunity Wasted

During the remake-crazy 2000’s, Hollywood largely focused on 80’s slasher movie titles. Occasionally, studios have opted to re-imagine classic horror movies – a Dawn of the Dead or Suspiria. Another case in point was Warner Bros attempt to resurrect The Omen franchise. There was no Gregory Peck this time around, but The Omen remake had a killer marketing campaign and a strong cast. Could a new version of The Omen possess horror fans again?

The Omen a Classic of 1970’s Horror

Though it’s not quite held in the same regard as The Exorcist or Alien, critics and fans still regard The Omen as a classic of 1970’s horror. Less gruesome than its devilish counterpart, The Exorcist, The Omen should still be cited for pushing horror violence in new directions. Director Richard Donner orchestrated several elaborate and over-the-top death scenes. Today, this kind of horror violence is commonplace. You can see the DNA of The Omen in several modern horror franchises. Yet in 1976, Donner was still blazing some fairly new territory.

The Omen successfully balanced the grandness of vintage screams with a contemporary approach.

It’s also important to note that Donner balanced the violence with a rich atmosphere. While Hammer Films’ gothic horror had run its course by 1976, The Omen successfully balanced the grandness of vintage screams with a contemporary approach. In spite of its supernatural narrative, Donner grounded the film, making it all the more frightening. Legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith also deserves credit for the lasting impact of The Omen. Goldsmith’s work on The Omen is among the best horror movie scores produced. Not surprisingly, it earned Goldsmith his only Oscar.

The Omen Remake Looks Good on the Surface

You could endlessly debate the merits of remakes. But it’s really a pointless endeavor. As long as there’s money to be made, Hollywood studios are going to keep going back to the well. At least in the case of The Omen remake, Warner Bros had a genuinely great marketing hook. Yes, the decision to remake and release The Omen on June 6 2006 was genius. In addition, a post-9/11 socio-political environment offered interesting new directions. Unfortunately, The Omen remake doesn’t have much else going for it aside from its 6/6/6 release date.

Unfortunately, The Omen remake doesn’t have much else going for it aside from its 6/6/6 release date.

First, The Omen isn’t necessarily a bad movie. On just a technical level, everything about it looks good. This is a slickly directed and edited movie from start to finish with obviously decent production values. You’ll find a few well-choreographed jolts, mostly from nightmare scenes not in the original. Moreover, it’s hard to point a finger of blame at the cast itself. Few contemporary actors were going to overshadow Gregory Peck. Nonetheless, Liev Shreiber (Scream) is an excellent actor, and he does justice to the role of Robert Thorn. Likewise, Julia Stiles and David Thewlis both bring the necessary level of gravitas demanded. Even child actor Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is suitably creep in his role as Damien.

The Omen Remake Feels Pointless

Where The Omen remake really goes wrong is in its rigid adherence to following the original movie. In fact, the remake doesn’t deviate in any significant way. It’s pretty much the exact same movie. Even much of the dialogue feels re-hashed. Any differences between the two movies are superficial in nature.

The editing is more frenetic to satisfy newer and younger audiences. Not unlike other horror movies from the 2000’s, there’s also an over-reliance on computer-generated effects. Neither of these differences improves The Omen remake. To the contrary, these small changes undermine much of the original movie’s atmosphere. Another problem is the completely generic music score. Goldsmith’s contributions are sorely missed in the remake.

A Devil of an Opportunity Wasted

Ironically, in a movie about the son of Satan, The Omen remake is a soulless effort. Certainly, the remake looks good. Everything is above the board. Well, almost everything. Jerry Goldsmith’s Oscar-winning score is notably absent. If you’ve never seen the original, you may find the remake passable. But that’s a problem in and of itself. Forty years after it’s release, The Omen remains a classic. In contrast, the 2006 remake is a staid horror movie that takes no chances with its material. The end result – a forgettable horror movie. Lucifer’s prodigy deserved better.

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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