Damien's back. Do you care?
Straight out of the "unnecessary remake" file comes The Omen, last year's update of Richard Donner's seminal 1976 film. Considered by most horror enthusiasts to be a classic, the original Omen wasn't exactly crying out to be redone. But with mediocre slasher flicks like Saw and Hostel cleaning up at the box office, it seemed like a pretty safe bet.
With a story rooted in Catholic theology and Biblical visions of the apocalypse, Donner's original possessed a certain credibility that made it all the scarier. Its greatest contribution to the horror genre, however, was Damien, the hell-raising son of the antichrist who wreaks havoc wherever he goes. Even today, the name Damien is synonymous with any particularly unruly kid.
The remake's plot stays essentially true to the original, with certain aspects changed to give it a more modern context. An American diplomat (Liev Schreiber) and his wife (Julia Stiles) are living in Rome and raising their child, just like any ordinary family. Unbeknownst to them, however, is the fact that their young son Damien happens to be the spawn of the devil, sent to earth to initiate the final battle between good and evil. All sorts of awful events ensue as people all around them begin dying in a variety of nasty ways.
Director John Moore assembled a surprisingly strong cast for the remake. In addition to Schreiber and Stiles as the unfortunate parents, Mia Farrow stars as Damien's creepy nanny. David Thewlis and Pete Postlethwaite shine in supporting roles as a reporter and priest, respectively, who try desperately to stop Damien and ward off the apocalypse.
While not a horrible film, the 2006 version of The Omen does little to distinguish itself. It's not as head-scratchingly ill-advised as Gus Van Sant's shot-for-shot remake of Psycho, but it's not much better either. It will be remembered mostly for its ad campaign, which plastered cities with giant billboards featuring only the numbers "6-6-06," referring to the film's release date. In fact, that seems to be the only reason for the movie's existence.
What's On the Disc
There's one commentary track, featuring director John Moore, producer Glenn Williamson and editor Dan Zimmerman. They spend most of the time patting each other on the back and praising the actors for their performances. Why commentary was needed from the editor, I'll never know.
"Omenisms" is a short "making of" documentary chronicling the crew's frantic efforts to finish the film before the studio's pre-determined release date of June 6, 2006. It's always interesting to see how decisions from a studio's marketing department can drive a well-intentioned director batty, and Omen director John Moore certainly has his share of headaches with this one. Like many studio projects these days, the film was being re-written during the shoot, and Moore looks visibly frustrated at times. He's also perpetually out of breath, as much of his interview footage was inexplicably shot while walking.
"Revelation 666" is a History Channel-esque documentary discussing the origin of the infamous number and its significance to people of faith throughout the centuries. "Abbey Road Sessions" goes behind the scenes during the composing and recording of the film's score. Much like the score itself, the sequence is largely unexceptional.
Also included are a few deleted scenes and an alternate ending. It's somewhat misleading to call it an alternate ending, though, since traditionally the term has been used to connote an ending that involves a change in plot, however minor. The one on this disc would more accurately be labeled an "extended" or "more violent" ending.
All told, even the most ardent fans of John Moore's remake will be hard-pressed to find a reason to pick up this DVD. It's doubtful that Fox has any plans to release a more feature-packed disc any time soon though, so this is probably it. It's worth a rental if you're looking for a scare this Halloween.