Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Better the Devil You Know - Remaking The Omen

hic sapientia est qui habet intellectum conputet numerum bestiae numerus enim hominis est et numerus eius est sescenti sexaginta sexThe new remake of the classic ‘seventies horror movie The Omen is being released this coming Tuesday. Nearly all movies are released on Fridays, to capture the weekend date market, but The Omen is coming out on Tuesday because it’s too big a marketing opportunity to miss. This coming Tuesday, you see, is 6/6/’06 – THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST!!

Miserably, the whole project seems like a marketing exercise from start to finish – some smart boy in Twenty-Century Fox spotted the date in the calendar, and the thing began to rumble.

It’s such a pity – the original Omen was such a high water mark in horror movies. A high water mark that’s been carefully noted by the eminences grises behind this new movie – judging by the trailer, entire scenes have been lifted frame for frame from the original, with some new bits thrown in to thicken the soup.

I wonder if they had the sense to lift the most important part of the old movie? If Brian Singer can used John Williams’ marvellous Superman theme in Superman Returns, the shade of Carl Orff is hardly going to object to Carmina Burana going around the gallops one more time, as the Hornèd One tries to get the young fella a start. But it seems not – another black mark against the movie.

The casting looks pretty good – this new young fella, Séamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, looks just as sinister as his 1976 epigone, Harvey Stephens, and Michael Gambon and Pete Postelthwaite, as Bugenhagen and Father Brennan respectively, are sufficiently familiar with ham to fill the shoes of Leo McKern and Patrick Troughton. The casting of the Thorns is a little more doubtful – Julia Stiles is one of An Spailpín’s favorite icy beauties, but she’s a bit too young to be the wife of the Ambassador to the Court of St James. Lee Remick was 41 when the first Omen came out – Julia Stiles is twenty-five. A twenty-five year old Hitchcock blonde should be on a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, not handing out the Ferraro Rochets at the ambassador’s reception and raising the infernal succubus in her spare time.

As for Liev Schreiber filling in for the immortal Gregory Peck, it’s an impossible task for anyone. The poor man is, inevitably, biting off more than he can chew. Chances are this movie will be a success, for the simple reason that as long as the boxes are ticked the crowd don’t really care if they’re being sold old rope or not – they just want two hours of fun, thanks. But it is a pity that, if you must remake a classic, you don’t try that little bit harder.

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