A rather unnecessary (although few remakes really are; this one was seemingly done to jump on its 6/6/06 release date and the fact that it would be available on DVD in time for Halloween) remake of Richard Donner's 1976 chiller, this remake of "The Omen" is largely similar, with both films even sharing the same screenwriter.
The film opens with the US Ambassador to Italy, Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) coming to the aid of his wife, Katherine (Julia Stiles), who he finds has given birth to a stillborn child. A priest at the hospital offers him an option: he can swap his son for another baby (who just might be...eeeevil?) born the same day to a single mother who has passed away and who has no known relatives.
When Robert's boss dies, Robert, Katherine and Damien (who's now in the single-digits) pack up and head to London so he can become the ambassador to England. However, things quickly turn dark when Damien's babysitter hangs herself in front of everyone at the tot's birthday party. A new nanny (Mia Farrow, enjoyably creepy) has Damien's best intentions at heart, which will certainly cause a bit of trouble for everyone else.
Not surprisingly, a set of people - a priest (the great Pete Postlethwaite) and a photographer (the similarly terrific David Thewlis) warn the couple that their kid just ain't right, but they don't listen, even when Damien has an unholy freak-out on the way to a church. Unfortunately, those who go up against Damien do tend to run into some...problems.
John Moore ("Behind Enemy Lines") directs the picture in surprising fashion, given that in his prior two films, the camera doesn't sit still for more than a second. While "The Omen" is certainly still slick and glossy in every frame (notice the artificially highlighted reds), it thankfully doesn't display the same sort of rapid-fire editing. The main issue I had with the film wasn't its visual style, but the casting: while I'm fine with underplaying, Stiles and Schreiber (although moreso Stiles) are bland enough that they seem to almost fade into the background of some scenes. The supporting actors, including Thewlis, Farrow and Postlethwaite, do make up a bit for the lack of energy from the two leads. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is quite creepy as Damien, as well.
Overall, "The Omen" manages a few decent "jump" scares, but remains rather forgettable, thanks to average performances from the leads. Fans of the original may be displeased, but those who are interested in seeing this sleek remake may want to add it to their Halloween viewing.
VIDEO: The review copy that arrived offered the special features that came with the final product, but the video presentation is not the same as final copy. The presentation is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was surprisingly straightforward, with the surrounds getting some mild use at times for the scares, the score and slight ambience. Otherwise, the majority of the film has the sound spread nice and wide across the front speakers. Audio quality remained enjoyable, as the score remained bold and punchy, while sound effects were quite crisp and clear. Dialogue sounded natural and undistorted.
EXTRAS: Commentary by director John Moore, producer Glenn Williamson and editor Dan Zimmerman is the main supplement. "Omenisms" is a 37-minute featurette that goes deeper than these sorts of pieces usually do. The film's release date, which is mentioned earlier in the review, was already set in stone before filming began, giving the filmmakers little time to shoot. The documentary follows the crew as they encounter problems, discuss their thoughts on remaking the film and try to shoot some of the bigger scenes in the picture. It's a sharp, well-produced and involving documentary.
"Abbey Road Sessions" is a shorter documentary that looks at composer Marco Beltrami's work on the score of the film. Finally, we get another featurette ("Revelation 666"), a pair of extended scenes, a slightly different alternate ending and trailers.
Final Thoughts: "The Omen" offers a few decent scares and some good supporting performances, but the two leads aren't particularly engaging. Overall, a decent Halloween rental, but fans of the original may have trouble warming up to this very similar remake. The DVD offers some very informative bonus features.
The Film C