06/06/06 release date, commercial cash-cow marketing trick aside, you may be wondering why anyone would feel the need to remake The Omen. Well, wonder no more as some trite and trivial observations early on explain that, thanks to recent Serious Events, the Devil’s son is to be reborn. “When a comet rips the sky” (2003’s Columbia shuttle disaster)... “And the Holy Roman Empire rises” (erm, 1957’s Treaty Of Rome)... “From the eternal sea he rises” (Asian tsunami, 2004)... Tag on gratuitous shots of 9/11 and some gubbins about the eve of Armageddon and you have the writers’ justification for retelling. Damien’s hideous jackal mum will be turning in her grave.
“I am not having any more children!” shrieks Mrs Thorn, upon hearing that she’s expecting another bundle of joy; one that her first sprog, Damien, wants dead. Her understandable hankering for an abortion is one of the very few changes director John Moore has made to Richard Donner’s 1976 original. In the main, his film is just a shinier, prettier, younger re-treading for the Final Destination generation. Moore’s minion opts for shocks rather than murky suspense. Adding dream sequences purely designed to make you leap six feet skywards and elaborate deaths rendering the original’s spikes-in-the-neck and glass-decapitations tame, the modern Omen will reap in the popcorn chuckers: thousands of 15-plusses who won’t be bored by a slowly unravelling plot that anyone who’s seen Donner’s Devil has seen done before, better.
Alas, the same goes for the supposedly high-calibre cast. They’re simply not as creepy, involved or memorable as 1976’s Peck, Remick, Whitelaw, Troughton ensemble. And while Davey-Fitzpatrick’s Damien is still the sort of kid you’d want to slap with an ASBO/execution order, the impact of his first display of power – namely the hanging nanny yelling “It’s all for you Damien!” – has been lessened by a preceding OTT explosion in Rome, serving only to explain how the fresh-faced Thorn happened upon the US Ambassador to Britain job.
Comparisons to the original are, of course, redundant to the few who haven’t already spent time with the son of the Devil’s first outing. Yet, there is a universal flaw in Moore’s Omen so genuinely shoddy that it makes the whole film seem tacky. Watch the Thorns leave their outskirts-of-London estate. What’s that outside the window? Tramlines? Cobbled streets? Czech signs? Oh, they shot it in the Czech Republic, did they? And didn’t bother to change the street scenes so they look at least a little like London? Not hurrying things for 06/06/06, were we?