When Marketing Attacks

Main Cast: Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles

Director: John Moore

Wanna know how to do it wrong when making a horror movie? Let the marketing overshadow the story. Case in point: June 6, 2006 (6/6/06), a remake of the 1976 classic The Omen was released to theaters. It starred Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles as Robert and Katherine Thorn, parents to Damien, the antichrist. While I remember very little of the original movie, save David Warner’s decapitation scene, it had to have been a decent movie as it spawned three sequels. This remake though? Not so much. And it’s all because the marketing overshadowed the story.

This movie wasn’t finished when it hit theaters. You could tell. It was plodding and not the least bit suspenseful, not to mention the acting, even from seasoned vets like Schreiber and Stiles, was just weak and bland. And being a remake, while the details could change–and some did–the gist must, of course, remain the same, which is Damien Thorn is the son of the devil and will grow up to become the antichrist. It’s 30 years later, but for it to be The Omen in any way at all, the story has to remain the same.

Considering director John Moore’s other credits–which include Flight of the Phoenix and A Good Day to Die Hard–it’s obvious he knows how to move the pace along and get some decent performances from his actors. So what went wrong in The Omen? That damned release date. Because, let’s face it, a remake of The Omen wasn’t exactly in demand from anyone, so for this thing to succeed at all, it HAD to be out by 6/6/06, everything hinged on that day. And the end product, when it finally hit screens, just obviously was not ready at all. Rarely have I found myself so completely bored during a movie I actually WANTED to watch. And I did want to watch it. I’ve been looking–every now and then–for a cheap copy of this DVD almost since the movie was released nearly 8 years ago. But I saw how it performed at the box office, I saw the underwhelming press it received after it came out, and I wasn’t paying full price. I finally found a copy for only a few bucks, but finally getting to sit down and watch it proved to be less than the time of my life.

The score is boring as hell, while the cinematography feels wholly uninspired and dull. Everyone in the cast looks bored. Don’t get me wrong, though. There is a damned effective horror movie buried in here somewhere, if you can just cut out all the fat. The bones are there, but there’s just so much excess in the way. And anyway, who cares? The original movie still exists, and it was GOOD. The advances in special effects and moviemaking in the intervening 30 years certainly hadn’t made it possible to make the movie any better; as far as I could tell all of the special effects from the original were simply copied in the remake. So there’s no case for “You have to watch the remake, the effects are SO much better.” No, they’re not. They’re no different, in fact.

Overall, I think the idea of The Omen remake was just a bad one. Sure, there was that 6/6/06 date and all, but that’s NO reason to invest so much time and money in a movie just so you can do something sly and cheeky like release it on that day. It’s just The Omen, for God’s sake.

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