The Omen (1976)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 8/6/18
Director: Richard Donner
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Cast: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw

U.S. Ambassador Robert Thorne (Gregory Peck) is overwhelmed by grief when he learns that his newborn son died during childbirth. Curiously, his wife Kathy (Lee Remick) is unaware of the situation, and Thorne makes a hasty decision to adopt an anonymous newborn to take his child's place. No one will ever know... Unfortunately for the Thornes, their new son Damien happens to be the son of Satan, and it isn't long before terrible things start happening to those who challenge him. Damien's nanny, Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw), is an agent of evil who dedicates her life to protecting the Antichrist while driving a wedge between Damien and his family. Meanwhile, a crazy priest and a nosey photographer (David Warner) try to warn Thorne of his predicament, and eventually the irrefutable evidence forces him to attempt to kill the demon child.

"The Omen" is a very smart and well-written supernatural thriller, and a wonderful take on the New Testament's "Book Of Revelations." Gregory Peck gives a strong and dignified performance as a father who is wracked by guilt and faced with a horrible choice in response to circumstances that are beyond his understanding. Lee Remick makes an excellent wife and mother whose sanity slowly unravels as Damien grows, and Billie Whitelaw is super creepy as the deranged nanny. David Warner's somewhat abrasive character is rather compelling, and much like Thorne, he's also forced to come to terms with things that defy any sort of rational explanation.

It's a good looking film and the visual effects are shocking and superbly crafted. The film's key moments became instant horror classics, including one of the most spectacular decapitations ever captured on film. Jerry Goldsmith's music score is also noteworthy and creates an unsettling atmosphere of supernatural dread. My only real complaints are that the pacing is a bit slow and some of the writing is needlessly frustrating. There are way too many occasions where characters simply refuse to give a straight answer to even the simplest of questions. Speaking in riddles is never an endearing trait, especially when time is of the essence and you want people to take you seriously.