It’s been nearly 45 years at the time of writing this article that Damien Thorn first graced the silver screen, crafted by the mind of Director Richard Donner from a screenplay by David Seltzer. The story of the antichrist, starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, and Patrick Troughton would carve its place in horror film history and spawn a further three films, a remake, and a TV series in its wake.
This year sees the 40th Anniversary of the third instalment, Omen III: The Final Conflict, starring Sam Neill as the antagonist, Damien.
Controversially, I find this movie one of the strongest in the series and have vivid memories watching it when I was younger. Some fans of the series connected more with the sequel, Damien: Omen II over this film, but I still find, having recently gone through the entire franchise, Omen III the stronger movie. Perhaps this is because of Neill’s magnanimous presence, but there are also some notable moments that put the audience off kilter, in a good way, and allow the film to shine through as a result.
Possibly the most troubling point played with is the hunting down and meticulously cold-blooded killing of baby boys, born on a certain day, predicated to be Christ reborn. As a father, these ideas are always a tough watch.
The strongest component for me is the symbolism attached to the fox hunting and the blooding of reporter Kate Reynolds son, Peter, grooming him to be a disciple of Damien. Also, the moment when Damien unleashes the hounds on one of his assailants. Some may see it as comical, but I really enjoyed the concept of the priestly pact of assassins, attempting to bring down Damien with the Seven Daggers of Megiddo.
Equally as compelling is Kate’s character, played by Lisa Harrow. There is a strong character arc at play here with her tackling her journalistic instincts, driving her to understand Damien more, but ultimately luring her into his web of demonic destruction. The scene in which Damien draws Kate in with sexual intimacy before sodomizing her, is the height of convulsion and a significant turning point for Kate.
Its weakest component to the film has to be its ending. The 1976 feature had such a strong finale with Damien turning to the camera before striking that wicked grin. And Damien: Omen II’s fiery end held an impactful conclusion. So it’s a shame that Damien’s demise should falter, admittedly at the hands of Kate, but to fall down before a Christly apparition seems a little too twee for my liking. It would have been nicely played had they kept this more ambiguous and leaving the downfall down to the interpretation of the audience.
As it stands though, it’s a great addition to the franchise, even if it does fall short of The Omen, but that was always going to be a tough act to follow.
- Saul Muerte