Straight from the most frustrated fan ever to Blog via email…
Why argue with a mind this warped – just read and revel in the spittle of the darkly doomed…
“And it opened up my eyes
I saw the sign”
— Ace Of Base
First there was a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Then they remade Dawn Of The Dead.
Then Amityville Horror.
Then The Fog.
Then The Hills Have Eyes…
We were warned. But didn’t heed. And now… The Apocalypse is upon us.
Because for me, my eternal hell would be to watch movies I once liked being
remade but worse and with just a slightly younger cast.
To its credit, THE OMEN (666) at least fails in a way no other recent
remake has: Instead of changing the original story for the worse, they
change nothing for the better.
In fact, it is so reverent to the original (only Gus Van Sant’s remake
of Psycho is more shot for shot) it makes you wonder, why bother even
redoing it at all? Well, we know why… The greatest evil on earth.
Marketing. Because this is the only time in 1,000 years that there
will be an actual 6/6/06 (which by the way, I tried to get Monsters HD
to acknowledge and at best, we’d be showing Ernest Borgnine in the “The
Devils Rain”), they decided to remake The Omen just so they could
release it on 6/6/6. Ok. It’s not the worst idea (that was remaking
“The Shining” with Steven Webber). But if you’re gonna do it, you’d
think maybe you could take it to a new level? Maybe? Please?
Nope. The only real update is the film’s opening depicting a
closed-cabinet conference of priests cataloging post-Millennial “signs”
of Armageddon (for once, “two guys in eloping in Vermont” in the least
of their concerns). And of course they hit 9/11, as evidenced by
fleeting use of actual Trade Center footage. Apparently some people are
already bent out of shape on that issue. This is the only point in
which I feel the film is being unfairly attacked. While I respect the
critic’s sensitivity to a real tragedy, the ignoble invocation of 9/11
imagery to manipulate a cheap, emotional response from an audience has
frankly been done before, many times, by idiotic hacks of low-brow
fiction, or as it’s vernacularly known as “Fox News”. Besides there are
much bigger reasons to attack this film, like using a zoom lens.
For the one or two people who may not know the original, The Omen is
the notion that the devil incarnate will be born, rise up and lead all
of us to damnation, and/ or sequels. Two parents must come to terms
that perhaps Father’s Day may be a little confusing in their household
and must even start to think of killing their little devil in order to
save mankind. Tis a dramatic premise. And here, is where they could’ve
justified their remake chops by fixing some of the contrivances that
also bugged me about the original.
I have never understood that if supposedly the Church knows this is
happening– and firmly believe this is the real deal, that the fate of
all eternal souls hang in the balance, then why don’t they fuckin’ kill
the bastard right now? Go on. Get him. Now. Why is there, like, only
one set of steak knives to do the trick and they’re apparently hidden
by some drunk guy half way around the world? FEMA has been more
prepared. Man, if I were Pope, fuck ignoring AIDS, I’d have my guys
attacking this kid’s house every hour on the hour. Missed him tonight.
We’ll get him tomorrow, boys! IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD FOR CHRIST’S
SAKES. Show some balls. Isn’t this the fight you’ve been waiting
for!?! But no, they kind of sit around and resign themselves to saying
woe is me. My god, that’s what I thought only us Jews did.
But I do understand.
Cause it ain’t like the Devil’s any great shakes either.
The Anti-Christ, the Ultimate All-powerful Evil, who has apparently
waited eons for this moment as well, is currently being guarded by a
stray pooch and a geriatric nanny whose biggest combat move is to run
away and be hit by a car. The priest from Caddyshack can take her. The
Prince Of Darkness has less security than I went through to get my cell
phone into the screening.
So basically, it’s the flyweight match of eternal good and evil. It’s a
miracle if either side wins.
This is one of the problems with the original story and the remake does
nothing to help flesh it out. What the remake does do is more or less
just the same shots, with emphasis pretty much on less. Where once
helpless goldfish crashed to the floor writhing next to Damien’s
mother, now she just drops a potted plant.
It is soooo unscary. And I really fault the casting. Neither of the
leads are bad actors but they don’t have the believability or stock
that a Lee Remick or Gregory Peck had. Why must we look at parents who
were last seen on screen playing teenagers? l want adults to portray
adults again. To have something supernatural be believable, you first
have to sort of believe the natural.
Then there’s Mia Farrow as the nanny. Again, she’s a fine actress but
casting “Rosemary” to watch the baby comes across as being nothing more
than an hour long wink. Besides, all of us post-modern horror geeks
old enough to even get the reference would much rather just watch the
But the worst… I hate to say it… is the kid. This story hinges on
who plays the kid. The entire believability rests on his shoulders.
It’s a tall order for a child actor but them’s the breaks where you
choose to play the spawn of Satan. And this kid just ain’t scary. Nor
is he directed to be likable (frankly, I think the way to make a “scary
kid” genre movie is to cast a kid who’s far from scary. Make them
likable. Sweet. Wouldn’t the Devil have a kid who’s tempting?). Damien
is just bland and aloof. Plus they lose a huge gamble of not giving
him any dialogue. Alas, instead of making him come across as being
cold and detached, you just hope someday he’ll run his hands under a
water pump and speak. He ceases to be a child character and just
becomes a “monster”, which is fine. But then, like all good, scary
monsters, you should not him face to face until the final act (if only
Spielberg were around to tie a orange barrel to his ass). You will feel
more threatened by any kid from Mr. Mom.
The other issue is the entire tone of the film. While the young
director at least does an admirable job of trying to keep things
ominous, it goes overboard. We are hit over the head, again and again
with blatant we-get-it “signs” and the overkill of bright red swatches
of color across an otherwise grey-toned shots (and with an intensity
not seen since the ball from Duran Duran’s “Is There Something I Should
Know” video). Only one scene– the infamous photographer in Jerusalem
moment– stands out on it’s own merit but then again it would’ve work
equally well in “Final Destination 666”.
Look, I realize just based on the spooky religious-hoodoo themes alone,
I’m sure some people will think this movie id scary (I know someone
near and dear who was scared by it but I will argue they’d also be
scared by “The Devil & Max Devlin”). And I’ve actually just read that
exorcisms are on the rise (Side note: Just imagine if the FDA approved
exorcisms… What would the ads be? A child in a field running towards
a man with long hair and beard in a white robe with an announcement
stating “side effects may include, vomiting, foul language, clawing,
masturbation and head-turning. Please ask your priest or rabbi before
taking Lucifix”.) Clearly religious questioning is on people’s minds
these days. We have a president who believes the rapture is coming. We
live in a world where people are protesting The Da Vinci Code– a
fuckin’ TOM HANKS MOVIE. It’s not sacrilege, people. It’s a thriller
directed by the man who made Cacoon and Willow (one more side note: is
it just me or does the new poster for The Da Vinci Code look like it
should be renamed “Star Wars: Episode 4– Sith Happens”?). Just once,
I wish the religious right would protest something for the right
reasons. Like cashing in on unoriginality for money.
Because you know a devil movie isn’t working when the signs you notice
most are the reel changes.