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The First Omen (2024)

I knew immediately this was going to be worth watching having seen only the first minute or so, with the Ineson/Dance confessional. Having paid little or no mind to the project, aside from the giddy excitement of the original trailer reveal, my silent wishes appeared to be coming true - a really worthy tale that embraced the originals and embellished upon them.

For fans, this is not Omen IV - Armageddon 2000. Yes, I read all of the books. This is a prequel of the original trilogy.

Yes, we know its a different world now, more weary and less easily shocked, perhaps, but I was still hoping for something that would grip me like those first three movies did when I was still in primary school. At the time, I could almost feel the malevolence spitting out at the audience and my relationship with Damien seemed almost real, entranced as I was by maybe a darker interest than the average ten-year-old with an imagination to match.

And The First Omen displays many of the same qualities of the originals, not least the clinical, brooding ordinariness of a tale that should not really be glamourised. Like The Omen and its spawn, it is littered with recognisable, mostly British talent and Charles Dance and Ralph Ineson are just an introduction to the effervescent Bill Nighy to follow, exuding confidence to the audience that we truly are in well considered hands.

Hollywood, as a rule, has the sometimes annoying habit of making any image other than dour wherever possible, but this is not true here, often (but not always) eschewing excitement for uncomfortable scenes that may at first appear to be somewhat perfunctory, but is pleasingly directed with lumps of silent poison between the lines and the words unspoken.

At two hours, patience is required at times, though the dark underbelly of the plot maintains throughout, even at points of seemingly obvious exposition. In all, this is a decent homage to the originals that doesn't quite manage to capture the zeitgeist, the disquiet, the relentless foreboding and the bare-toothed silent terror of the originals, but it has a very good stab.

PS, you really haven't lived until you see an aging nun, bouncing up and down on a trampoline in full habit, smoking a cigarette. Just sayin'.


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