The Omen and The Problem with the Horror Genre

I watched The Omen (1976) over the weekend and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I have never been a big fan of the horror genre, but I actually really enjoyed this film. The film tells the story Robert Thorn, who is played by Gregory Peck. Thorn is the American ambassador to Great Britain. The film opens with Thorn rushing to a hospital in Rome, where the audience learns that the child his wife has just given birth to has died. A priest approaches Thorn with an infant whose mother has died in childbirth and suggests that Thorn take the child as his own, which Thorn agrees to and lets his wife believe the child is theirs. As their child, Damien, gets a little older mysterious events begin to happen all around him. The Thorn’s nanny kills herself by jumping off their roof with a noose around her neck, yelling right before, “Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you.” A few scenes later Damien has a hysterical fit as he gets near a church.

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After a cryptic message from a priest, Thorn actually begins to believe that Damien may in fact be the spawn of Satan. He and a reporter go looking into the mystery surrounding the birth of Damien. They are met with constant strange occurrences. While Thorn is away, his wife Katherine begins to believe that Damien is evil herself, and the new nanny, Mrs. Baylock creepily protects Damien.

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The film presents a lot of gore in its death scenes, which appear somewhat campy today because of the age of the film. Gregory Peck’s performance isn’t bad, but doesn’t come close to many of the films in his great career. The film making is nothing spectacular, but the film is an enjoyable watch. The film also has a very interesting history though as it is often considered “cursed.” A large number of strange and unexplained events happened to the cast and crew during and in the years following production. These include the screenwriter’s plane getting struck by lighting and a plane that Gregory Peck was supposed to be on crashing. While these events are tragic they add a certain mystery to the film, which certainly creates a more interesting viewing experience.

I mentioned that I am not a fan of the horror genre earlier. My main complaint is the lazy film making and the lack of original ideas. It seems like every horror film gets a ton of cheap, poorly made sequels that certainly don’t add anything to the original and often take away from it. The Omen has a great ending that leaves the audience scared for the future. The Omen did not need a sequel, yet it got three and a 2006 remake. This problem extends to the whole genre though. There have been ten Friday the 13th sequels and nine Halloween sequels. The genre as a whole needs more of an emphasis on original ideas and less on sequels, prequels, spinoffs, and remakes.

Despite my dislike of the horror genre, I actually very much enjoyed The Omen. It is not the greatest film ever, but it is a fun and enjoyable watch. Here is a review if you are interested in learning more about the film, and here is an article about the “cursed” nature of the production.

-Walker Rise

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5 Responses to The Omen and The Problem with the Horror Genre

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I am a huge horror-movie junkie, though I agree 90% of horror films are flops in terms of plot and style. I like how you discussed one, however, that intrigued you – I definitely want to take a look at The Omen. Thanks for the recommendation!

    -Meg Schmit

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I am also a big horror movie fan, but am often frustrated with the repeated story-lines and, as you mentioned, the unnecessary sequels. I have never seen the Omen and since you seemed to like this and not many other horror films, I am definitely going to give it a shot!
    -Maddie Turner

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Although horror franchises seem to have taken a turn towards the worst, I’d argue that the genre as a whole hasn’t been this good in a decade. In 2016 alone we have had The VVitch, The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, Don’t Breathe, Ouija 2 (which, apparently, is really good), Hush, and 10 Cloverfield Lane. All these movies have gotten solid reviews and it seems to me that the horror genre has started to turn around.

    – Cal Parsons

  4. mediaphiles says:

    This movie sounds very creepy yet intriguing, and I think I may have to watch it this weekend. The plot-line sounds somewhat similar to a book I was told about, where a mother gives birth to two children and one of them is mentally disabled. The father tells the nurse to “get rid” of the mentally disabled child, but the nurse cannot bring herself to do it. The nurse ends up taking care of the child, while the mother continues on with her life thinking that her second child is dead. I think the concept of “switching” babies or hiding secrets from the mother is a pretty messed up concept that only leads to conflict as time goes on. It is also very interesting that this movie takes a “satanist” spin on the child.

    -Sarah Holt

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I’ll have to watch the Omen some time, I don’t like Horror films either though. However, you’ve really turned me around, especially since you don’t like horror films. I will say that I agree with Cal, Horror films are definitely turning around. More filmmakers are coming up with original ideas, even though there are still plenty of bad films too (Split, please please don’t see it). I really enjoyed “It Follows” especially because the focus seems to be not on the story, but rather on the cinematography. It’s really interesting to me that the substance of a film can be negligible as long as it still invokes feeling in the viewer, and has breathtaking visuals.

    Russell Lawrence

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