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Film / The Omen (1976)

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Behind the face of an angel lies a heart of darkness...
“Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred threescore and six.”

The Omen is a 1976 horror film directed by Richard Donner, starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick Troughton, Martin Benson, and Leo McKern. The first film was scripted by David Seltzer, who also wrote the novelization. Jerry Goldsmith's terrifying choral score won him his only Academy Award.

When Robert Thorn's (Peck) wife Katherine (Remick) delivers a stillborn child, a priest approaches Thorn with the offer of another newborn whose own mother died at the same moment. To spare his wife the grief, Thorn agrees to the switch and lets her believe the child is their own. Several years later, Robert becomes the American ambassador to England and the Thorn family moves into a large manor there. And that's when mysterious deaths and odd events begin to plague the Thorns and those in their orbit, especially those who attempt to convince them that little Damien (Stephens) is not all he seems...

It kicked off the ''Omen'' franchise and spawned several sequels: Damien: Omen II (1978), The Final Conflict (1981) and Omen IV: The Awakening (1991). The original movie was remade in 2006. The 2016 TV series Damien is a direct sequel to the original film, ignoring the rest of the sequels.

This film has examples of:.

  • Adaptational Nationality: In the novelization, Father Brennan is an Italian named Father Tassone.
  • All There in the Manual: The novelization reveals that Spiletto, Brennan and Mrs. Baylock were apostates of Hell who arranged the birth of the Antichrist and the murder of the Thorns' son, so that Damien could be switched with him.
  • And I Must Scream: The mysterious fire at the hospital left Father Spiletto disfigured from his burns, mute, and catatonic, only able to communicate by writing with his left hand. Even then, he can only do this briefly.
  • Animals Hate Him: Damien terrifies most animals. They either flee or attack him and for good reason. The exceptions, of course, are his guard dogs.
  • The Antichrist: Damien.
  • Arc Words: "Look at me Damien! It's all for you!"
  • Artistic License – Religion:
    • Damien's birth date in June is said to have been chosen for its opposite-end remoteness from Christmas Day. Yet December 25th was not the original date Christmas was celebrated. It was changed by the early Church to take the thunder from pagan festivals like the feast of Mithras. Presumably the forces of Heaven and Hell would know the true date.
    • The poem recited by the priest ("When the Jews return to Zion...") is purportedly from the Book of Revelation, but it isn't.
  • Aside Glance: Damien at the end. Also even more effectively in the teaser of the remake.
  • The Atoner: Father Brennan was previously a Satanist who was responsible for Damien being born, he turns to God and tries to help the Thorns to no avail.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Damien lives on, with most of the people who were wise to his true nature (including his adoptive parents) dead. He is also in the care of the president of the United States.
  • Big "NO!": Father Brennan screams it when lightning strikes the lightning rod on the roof of a church, causing the rod to fall on him and impaling him to death.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Mrs. Baylock, who puts on a pleasant enough front before her true nature is made apparent.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Katherine, after the fall that kills her unborn child. And again when she herself dies after being pushed out the hospital window.
  • Broken Bird: Katherine, she was already established to be one even before Damien was adopted. The peculiar occurrences caused by the him makes things worse for her.
  • Burying a Substitute: They dig up Damien's birth mother and there's a jackal in the casket. Turns out the jackal is the mother.
  • Cassandra Truth: Father Brennan continually warns Robert of Damien's nature and his entire life is in danger. It falls on deaf ears until its too late.
  • Creepy Cemetery: Robert and Jennings visit an old Etruscan graveyard (guarded by demonic Hellhounds) to search for the grave of Damien's real mother.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Father Brennan is trying to invoke this.
  • Death of a Child: The Thorns' son is stillborn at the start of the movie. But Robert later learns that his infant son was murdered so he could be switched for the Devil's son.
  • Doomed Appointment: Subverted. Thorn gets the warning, but doesn't believe it.
  • Downer Ending: Katherine and Robert Thorn die while Damien lives with his new parents, nobody realizing his true nature as the Antichrist.
  • Driven to Suicide: Damien's first nanny, Holly, who hangs herself from the rooftop under the influence of one of the demonic rottweilers, declaring that she's doing it for Damien.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Deconstructed. A spot of reckless driving by Robert during the finale gets the cops on his tail en route to the church. Those same cops end up chasing him all the way to the church and shooting him dead after he ignores their exhortations to stand down.
  • Foreshadowing: The photographs of the nanny, Father Brennan, and Jennings show how they die: by hanging, impalement, and decapitation, respectively.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Father Brennan was one of the Satanists involved in the plot to begin Damien's rise to power. After being diagnosed with cancer, he decides to try and redeem himself in the eyes of God by warning Robert about Damian's true nature.
  • Hell Hound: The rottweiler who is Damien's personal attack guard dog. There's also the pack of savage rottweilers at the Etruscan graveyard.
  • Hope Spot: Robert warns Katherine and tells her to leave London as soon as possible. But Ms. Baylock appears in her hospital room and shoves Katherine out the window, killing her.
  • Idiot Ball: Rather than mention something that might convince Robert he is telling the truth, Father Brennan just babbles incoherently during their meeting, so Robert dismisses him as crazy.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Father Brennan in the courtyard during the thunderstorm.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The daggers of Meggido, given to Robert by Bugenhagen, are the only mortal weapons that can kill Damien.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The people who helped bring the Devil's child into the world (and murdered the Thorns' son to facilitate this) all suffer horrible fates.
  • Madness Mantra: The very first words in the film: The child is dead. He breathed for a moment. Then he breathed no more. The child is dead. The child is dead.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Brennan regrets his involvement in Damien's birth, so he tries to make amends by warning the Thorns.
  • Nice Guy: Jennings, who willingly assists Robert at every turn, knowing from his photographs that it will mean his own death. It does.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Damien is the Antichrist, but he is also a small child and too young to consciously influence events or really understand what is happening.
  • Not Quite Dead: In the novelization, Mrs Baylock doesn't die after Robert stabs her through the neck and she pursues him outside. He then runs her over with his car.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Zig-Zagged. When the police burst in on Robert about to kill Damien, it is what it looks like. That having been said, the police are unaware of Damien being The Antichrist, and reasonably but incorrectly assume that Thorn has simply gone crazy and tried to kill his son for no reason. Indeed, the fact he ignores their attempts to talk him down implies he knows there's no way to explain the extenuating circumstances without sounding like a madman.
  • Number of the Beast: The Omen is probably most responsible for the association of the number 666 with the Devil in modern popular culture. Damien has a 666 birthmark on his scalp. He was also born at 6am on 6th June. In the UK, the movie was released on invoked6th June, 1976.
  • Off with His Head!: Jennings's death, still considered by horror buffs to be one of the best deaths of all time.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The "Ave Satani" theme.
  • Religious Horror: When you have a horror film about the Antichrist, you know it's going to have this trope written all over it.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Thorn and Jennings visit Father Brennan's small room after his death. The room is wallpapered with pages from the Holy Bible. Even the windows are covered. Several crucifixes and religious icons are on display as well.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: Instead of just killing Jennings, Satan sets a truck in motion, then has it hit an obstruction, sending a piece of glass flying that decapitates Jennings. With Father Brennan, Satan creates a storm to drive Brennan to a church, and then causes a lightning rod to fall, impaling the priest. It would have been simpler to have lightning strike Brennan dead, but instead Satan causes the lightning to hit the lightning rod, which falls to kill Brennan. Gaslit, as it it shown Satan can make people kill themselves as he does with the nanny. But with Brennan and Jennings, he kills them gorily and violently in an overly complicated manner instead.
  • See You in Hell: Father Brennan tells Robert this as Robert leaves the appointment.
  • The Shadow Knows: The opening titles have an image of Damien casting a shadow that looks like an upside down cross. In some posters, his shadow is that of a jackal.
  • Spooky Photographs/Marked to Die: Every single picture Jennings takes contains a shadow indicating how the subject will die by Satan's influence.
  • Stealth Pun: Damien's biological "mother" was a jackal, literally making him a son of a bitch.
  • Sugary Malice: The babysitter, Mrs. Baylock.
  • Switched at Birth: This is what kickstarts the plot: Thorn switches his stillborn child actually murdered with another one to keep his wife from realizing the truth.
  • Sword over Head: Despite the victim being a crying child the audience is likely screaming "KILL HIM ALREADY!!!"
  • Two-Faced: Father Spiletto is left like this thanks to his burns.
  • The Voiceless: In an earlier draft of the script Damien had absolutely no lines. In the actual film he talks infrequently but is still curiously quiet for a 5-year old.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Father Brennan probably would have convinced Robert that Damien was the Antichrist sooner if he hadn’t done so through vague warnings that are easily interpreted as deranged ranting.


Video Example(s):


Damien Wins

Damien survives the attempt on his life and gets adopted by the President.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheBadGuyWins

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