The Omen

Year: 1976
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Richard Donner
Cast: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Stephens
Forget the dismissive, pointless 06.06.06 effort by Irish remake whore John Moore, this is one of the (Un) Holy Trinity of movies about the dark side of the Christian religion, along with the The Exorcist and Angel Heart (no, Oh God, You Devil with George Burns isn't one of them).

Statesman Robert (Peck) and his wife Katherine (Remick) are on the way up when he's assigned the post of Ambassador to the UK. But he harbours a shady secret. When Katharine delivered a stillborn child, a dodgy priest offered Robert a healthy baby from a mother who died giving birth, no questions asked.

When the child is small, scowls, makes friends with savage animals, somehow causes a string of loopy nannies to commit suicide and just can't connect with his increasingly frazzled mother, Robert is unsure what's wrong with little Damien.

But when a mysterious priest starts harassing him, warning him about danger to him and his wife and spouting fire and brimstone, he's frightened. Then when Damien kills Katherine in one of the film's most disturbingly shot scenes, Robert has to face up to the truth - his son is the literal birth of Satan, the Antichrist.

Teaming up with investigative photojournalist Jennings (Warner), Robert crosses Europe on the trail of bloodshed and horror which includes the grave of a jackal and several grisly dismemberings and deaths to find out what he has to do.

There are sequences and elements that will sear themselves to your memory, such as the ghostly shapes that appear prophetically on photographs and Damien's nanny that dispatches herself at the birthday party.

With more than its fair share of mythology attributed to the film itself owing to the number of accidents, incidents, bad luck and subsequent deaths to cast and crew members, one of the greatest achievements of the film is the unique 'Britishness' of it. In everything from the design and locations to the characters, it seems in every way a British movie, not an American movie in a caricature Britain.

A big nod also to Jerry Goldsmith's only Oscar-winning score, which even director Donner said made the film so much scarier.

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