Hollywood remake-itis strikes again. Will they never learn? John Moore, who turned in an enjoyable but rather pointless remake of FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX a couple of years ago has now been roped in to lens this entirely-unnecessary 21st century reimagining of THE OMEN, one of the most powerful horror films of the 1970s. Except it isn? a reimagining at all; it? about as direct a remake as you could possibly expect ?David Seltzer? rewriting of his own script must have involved just a few crossings-out and the odd contemporary amendment. THE OMEN is just about the most pointless remake since PSYCHO a few years back. The real problem with this movie, apart from the fact it never needed to be made, is that it? just too coy and anodyne for a modern audience who are now used to more graphic stuff than the rather tame bloodletting on offer here. But in some ways that? one of the film? strengths ?the horror is more subdued, a bit more threatening, much more understated. But then that? the way it was with the original.
You know the score. Live Schreiber plays American ambassador Richard Thorn whose son dies during birth. Thorn is persuaded by a suspicious priest to accept a substitute baby born (of a jackal!) at the same time. All is well for a while but before long nasty things are happening ?the family nanny hangs herself and Thorn is being pestered by an obsessive priest who tries to give him a fevered warning about his son.
THE OMEN rattles along at a fair old lick and if you haven? seen the original (a new bells-and-whistles boxset of the original movies has just been released) it?l keep you entertained all the way through. It? got plenty of atmosphere, a genuine sense of doom ?but then so did the original. The original starred an ageing Gregory Peck as Thorn; here he? played by Liev Screiber who seems to have decided he couldn? be bothered to bring an acting performance with him. Schreiber is terribly dull, delivering his dialogue blankly and with little expression or emotion. Co-star Mia Farrow, in a recent Press interview to publicise the movie, bafflingly described Schreiber as ?his generation? Olivier.?I can only take this to mean Philip Olivier who played Tinhead in BROOKSIDE as any resemblance between Schreiber and Sir Lawrence is completely limited to the fact that they?e both human beings. Julia Styles is pretty lifeless as Thorn? wife but thankfully the acting chops are provided by the afore-mentioned Farrow as the mad replacement nanny, David Thewlis as the photographer (we all know what happens to him!) and there? a decent cameo from Michael Gambon.
Gore fans will find THE OMEN remarkably tame; the audience has moved on from simple beheadings and impalings but it? to the film? credit that Moore decided not to significantly alter the tone of the movie and much of the horror is implied rather than shown. But then this is very probably also down to creative laziness? Equally lazy is some of the production design, particularly the car chase through London, a city which has never looked more like Prague in its life, mainly because of the blindingly-obvious street signs and frontages which appear in the final reel.
THE OMEN isn? a bad film. It does its job well enough but, as a remake of an already perfectly-decent original, its job is pretty much redundant. Ultimately for the curious and completists only.
THE DISC: Nice soundscape and a picture which handles the dark, grey colour palette very well. Extras include a commentary and a decent ?aking of?as well as extended death scenes.