Now, as a rule I am against remakes. If a movie worked the first time, I see no point in trying to cash in on that artistic success. That said, I realized recently just how many good remakes there are out there. Some of my favorite films are, in fact, remakes. John Carpenter's The Thing, The Fly, the Donald Sutherland version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. I could go on and on, and probably fill up an entire post all about the good horror remakes out there, but the fact remains that for every Blob remake, we get a House of Wax or The Hills Have Eyes. I can't honestly call the Omen a huge step down, because about 5 minutes into the movie that old feeling, so familiar from the original film, began to creep over me; boredom.
I know I know, the Omen is largely regarded as a classic, and many of my friends will be upset with me saying I don't like the original, but what can I say? It just wasn't my cup of tea. I found it dull and uninteresting. I had been interested in seeing the remake, however, based on some fairly positive reviews from trusted sources, and I'm generally a fan of Liev Schreiber, who takes on the Gregory Peck role. However, whatever interest I had left me after the cliche opening sequence which charts the events that have led the Vatican to believe the end times are upon us. This scene wasn't that bad in and of itself, but it left me fairly blase about the rest of the proceedings. I will, however, express my amusement in the fact that Damien can only be killed by a ritual bloodletting over a church's altar. An incongruously pagan sacrifice in a film so invested in catholic minutiae.
Good horror movies tend to tap into our societal fears about the world around us, whether it's communism, nuclear power, or infectious diseases, and this is something the Omen recognizes, with 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the war in Iraq all used as proof of the coming apocalypse. The problem is, the movie brings up these fears, and then erases them instantly by putting the blame squarely on the devil, and taking all human responsibility out of the equation. If, according to the movie's logic, God is great, and has a plan for us all, then what's the point in worrying? We'll all die, and live forever in heaven, right? The religious-horror films that bypass this problem tend to be very personal, such as The Exorcist or Rosemary's Baby, focusing more on the spiritual than the worldly. The Omen does focus more on the spiritual, but puts it in a very worldly context, which works against the momentum the film tries to build up.
Add to this some of the laziest CGI I've ever seen outside of a Sci-Fi channel original(I'm sorry, that's unfair... to the Sci-Fi channel), and the wasted talents of numerous actors who don't deserve this(Pete Postlethwaite, David Thewlis, Michael Gambon, Liev Schreiber). I was going to make some pithy comment here about how this movie is one of the signs of the apocalypse, but that would be overestimating this film's worth to a ridiculous degree. In the end it's a very middle of the road affair. But hey, maybe that's the true sign of the end of the world; when we start to allow sub par crap like this pass for entertainment.