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Film / The Omen (1976)

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Behind the face of an angel lies a heart of darkness...
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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. Spawned a film series.

Robert Thorn (Peck), when his wife Katherine (Remick) delivered a stillborn child, was approached by a priest with the offer of an infant whose mother experienced a Death by Childbirth. He agreed to the switch, and his wife was blissfully unaware of the truth. 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 is not all he seems...

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The 2016 TV series Damien is a direct sequel to the original film, ignoring the rest of the sequels.


This film has examples of:

  • Adult Fear: 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. A stillbirth is a horrible thing to learn about, let alone witness.
  • 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 Anti-Christ: Damien.
  • Arc Words: "Look at me Damien! It's all for you!" Also doubles as Famous Last Words.
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  • 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.
  • Aside Glance: Damien at the end. Also even more effectively in the teaser of the remake.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Damien lives on, with most of the people who were wise to his true nature (including his adoptive parents) dead.
  • 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.
  • Burying a Substitute: They dig up Damien's birth mother and there's a jackal in the casket. It isn't clear if a substitute burial happened or if the jackal is the mother.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Father Brennan is trying to invoke this.
  • 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 Damian'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.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Father Brennan in the courtyard during the thunderstorm.
  • Nice Guy: Jennings, who willingly assists Robert at every turn, knowing from his photographs that it will mean his own death. It does.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Spooky Photographs/Marked to Die: Every single picture Jennings takes contains a shadow indicating how the subject will die by Satan's influence.
  • 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 Damian was the Antichrist sooner if he hadn’t done so through vague warnings that are easily interpreted as deranged ranting.

 
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Damien Wins

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

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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