When I was a kid, two things terrified me. Dracula, and Jaws. If a vampire wasn’t going to get me while I slept, then a shark would get me while I was swimming… completely inexplicably in my local swimming pool.
When I grew up a little, two movies gradually replaced Christopher Lee’s hissing vampire Lord and the world’s most famous shark in my subconscious. The Exorcist, and The Omen.
While neither of these movies quite has that spine-chilling effect on me as an adult that they did as a teenager, they both remain expertly crafted examples of truly epic horror and are still deeply unsettling.
Both have occupied my personal number one slot for the greatest horror movie at various times, I think right now, today, The Omen just edges it.
The American Ambassador to the Court Of St James has his child, who died in childbirth, replaced by another. It is a compelling classic. He keeps this secret from his wife. A series of mysterious events and violent, graphic deaths occur, slowly building the dread and peeling back layers of the mystery for them until the terrible truth becomes clear. Their son Damien is the Antichrist, and a horrific prophecy is about to come true.
There were two theatrical sequels, a terrible TV movie and a 2006 remake starring Liv Schrieber. There was also a TV series in 2016 that I failed to see.
I rewatched all three original movies a couple of years ago on DVD (remember them?) and the whole trilogy still really stands up. Doubly so when compared to the terrible movies that seem to account for much of the horror genre these days.
Now, with a sense of tedious inevitability, 20th Century Studios has decided we need a prequel, and has hired Arkasha Stevenson (Legion, Briarpatch) to direct. It will be called The First Omen.
Whether it will follow an earlier attempt to bring the Antichrist to Earth, or lead up to a certain baby being handed over to a certain ambassador, remains unclear. Stevenson and her writing partner Tim Smith will rewrite an existing script. David S. Goyer and Keith Levine are producing.