Oh, the evil of it all! – THE FIRST OMEN (2024) review

Not including the 2006 remake, 20th Century Fox laid The Omen series to rest in 1991 with the made-for-television feature, Omen IV: The Awakening, and in the year that followed, Whoopie Goldberg re-energized Catholicism with the musical comedy, Sister Act. Over the subsequent decades, studios have merged, nuns are now scary, and a franchise is re-born with The First Omen – currently in theatres everywhere through 20th Century Studios.

Having travelled to Italy to take her final vows, Margaret, a young American and orphan uncovers a sinister conspiracy within the church to orchestrate the birth of the Antichrist; in what is a prelude to the chilling events that unfold in the original classic, released almost 50 years ago.

With the twin movie, Immaculate, released only weeks prior, which also deals with an unholy conception, The First Omen manages to stand out, despite the early stages of the plot being almost play-by-play, complete with an intimidating Mother Superior, played by the Spider Woman herself, Sonia Braga.

I had hoped this prequel would directly explore the cult that was working to facilitate the entry of Satan’s seed into our world, as there are several disturbing allusions made to those responsible in the original first Omen. However, focusing on a central figure creates a more intimate and often uncomfortable experience with moments of body horror that certainly push the boundaries of the film’s classification. However, for what is essentially an origin story, a trend that’s beginning to out-stay its welcome, The First Omen becomes needlessly confusing as we approach the climax. By retconning established lore relating to the birth itself, which is my biggest gripe, there are attempts to leave the door open for further instalments.

The First Omen is an intense horror movie that resonates with evil, catering to fans of both the visual and psychological. Performances are a little one note, even from the starring lead Nell Tiger Free, but thoughtful casting is evident with Ralph Ineson as the tormented Father Brennan, who does not resemble his predecessor played by Patrick Troughton but embodies the same energy.

(2024, director: Arkasha Stevenson)



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