Coming out of the vogue for theological shockers in the wake of The Exorcist (1973), The Omen arguably threatened to beat it at its own game.
Sired by a jackal and destined to plunge the world into chaos and darkness when Satan decrees it, Damien (Harvey Stephens) is the Antichrist.
Secretly adopted by the American Ambassador to the Court of St James, Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife, Katherine (Lee Remick) – whose own child was stillborn at the moment of Damien’s birth – Damien spends the duration of the film killing his surrogate family and everyone else who steps in the way. A job that takes him six years.
The gore and shocks come fast but it’s the growing sense of menace played against the seeming innocence of the young boy that really makes this one disturbing.
The sequels were a great example of diminishing returns, but The Omen is a brilliantly constructed and truly terrifying movie.
Seeing lots of British character actors bite the dust in a dizzyingly bizarre fashion is worth the price alone.
John Stride s