Movie Review: The First Omen

The First Omen

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Witness the anti-miracle birth of evil. “The First Omen” is a direct prequel to the 1976 original that starred Gregory Peck. An American woman is sent to work at a church orphanage in Rome dedicating her life to serve God. But a sinister conspiracy will question her beliefs and loyalty at the coming of the Antichrist. Directed by Arkasha Stevenson. Starring Nell Tiger Free, Tawfeek Barhom, Sonia Braga, Ralph Ineson, and Bill Nighy.

While “The First Omen” doesn’t add much new to the narrative as far as a woman’s fate to become the mother of “Rosemary’s Baby”, the opening act of the movie also pretty much sets up all the audience needs to know to figure out what the rest of the course of the story will be. There’s the fair share of obligatory jump scares and sudden noises to frighten the more sensory-sensitive audience members. More grotesque imagery does come to light as the film progresses. While 1970s film techniques would subconsciously suggest these occurrences, for modern audiences, the visual takes it a step further. The squeamish imagination lingers for childbearing-minded women. Even for those who are not.

The actors do their jobs well with the material to best bring in the tone that matches that of the original.  A catalyst to the casting is Bill Nighy’s involvement as a man of God. A brilliant character actor to be certain. But already knowing the type of menacing screen presence he brings from his past repertoire, he’s both the perfect but safe choice. Speaking of surprises, a main plot twist didn’t feel so much like a twist as it was, “Okay, the character finally figured out the truth”. The church’s role held my attention but made me unsure if that distrust had been explored before or not.

The First Omen

Cinematography and music also bring the 1970s horror vibe to the mix to connect to the original film. But some shots step away and take you out of that era. Particularly a dance sequence at a night club. Some build up to a scary moment will quickly be passed over to keep the pace going. Fever hallucinations included. A super-unnatural beginning to a super-unnatural birth of the anti-miracle. A human sacrifice to bring life to death. A literal beginning of the world’s end.

Overall, “The First Omen” delivers a serviceable prequel to what is considered a classic 1970s horror film dealing with the Antichrist. It’s worth a watch for anyone with an interest in religious themed horror movies and will appreciate the stylish atmosphere and moody music this film brings to the big screen. “The First Omen” theatrically releases on April 5, 2024 from 20th Century Studios. A devious release window after Easter weekend. The horror movie two hour runtime is rated R for violence, disturbing images, and brief graphic nudity.

The First Omen