Mark of the Least

Mark of the Least

Film Review

Somewhere in a Hollywood production office, a few years ago:

Producer: Hey Bob, did you notice that the date 6/6/06 is coming up?

Bob: No sir, I did not. Isn't that the mark of the beast that some believers think the Antichrist will bear?

Producer: No Bob, it's the date our remake of "The Omen" is going to come out. Think of the marketing opportunities, Bob!

This conversation, or one very much like it, is the only reason a remake of "The Omen" exists. It wasn't because the original film was re-imagined — they even used the same screen play — or they found a creepy kid who could actually handle the part.

No, "The Omen" is a completely and totally unwarranted film. The 1976 original was creepy, bloody, scary, intense and had Gregory Peck; the new one's got the blood, but the intensity (and Gregory Peck) are gone.

The story of the son of Satan, and his adoptive father's (Liev Schreiber) realization that he has raised him and must now kill him, isn't quite as shocking as it was. The creators try to force some contemporary issues into the film by showing stock footage of recent disasters — including Sept. 11 — but it feels so tacked on that it just emphasizes the fact that this film did not need a remake.

The real disappointment here is Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick who plays Damien. The son of Satan becomes progressively less creepy as you realize that the frown plastered on his face is his only expression. If so many people didn't die around him, you'd wonder if he wasn't just a kid who frowns a lot instead of the Antichrist.

One of the only things the filmmakers did right was to cast Mia Farrow to play Ms. Baylock — Damien's nanny, protector and devil worshiper. Not simply for the "Rosemary's Baby" nod, but because her creepiness rubs off on Fitzpatrick.

The deaths are gorier than the original, but lack their shock value; thus, they have a "it's been done before" feeling, especially thanks to films like the "Final Destination" series.

The Omen is a bad omen in itself, foretelling of Hollywood's continuing desire to remake films that aren't ripe for remaking. The point of a remake should be to reinvent or at least enhance the original. The new "Omen" does neither of these things.