Remakes of classic films are very hard to pull off successfully. Most recent remakes hack the original to bits. In the case of The Omen, nothing has changed at all, but this does not make it any better than the original. Rather, it makes you question why this film was ever made in the first place. The original film took on a life of its own and become a part of our popular culture. After its release, parents refused to name their sons Damien and boys with the name probably got a lot of crap, especially if they had bowl-style haircuts.
The remake is brought into the present day to incorporate the usage of technology and make it "hip" and relatable to young people. This means that those in danger have mobile phones to call for help and photographers wanting to prove a point can just "blow up" photos on their Apple Macs, instead of showing the negatives. Damien has also been given a scooter instead of a tricycle, because that is what all the cool kids at school have these days.
Speaking of fashionable, one aspect of recent supernatural films is the blubbering idiot of a priest. They are so incoherent, they don't start making sense until we stop paying attention and begin the ever-straining task of trying to read our watches in the dark. I understand that simply walking up to someone and saying, "By the way? Your son? Not yours. Son of the Devil. Oh, and a Jackal.", is far fetched and laughable, but the blubbering idiot has been done. It's time to go, blubbering priest.
The casting in this film falls flat on its face and that's one of the major problems with it. Whilst a good actress, Julia Stiles is far too young to be playing Katherine Thorn — the "mother" of Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick). Stiles is too fresh-faced to make the audience believe that time has gone by in the film as we see Damien grow. The 14-year age gap between her and co-star Liev Schreiber is also much too apparent, making for an unconvincing married couple. Take the scene where Robert (Schreiber) is tending to Katherine's wounds — it almost looks like a father is tending to his child. Stiles does what she can with the role, but she doesn't quite pull it off.
Schreiber takes on the role of Robert Thorn, previously played by Gregory Peck. Schreiber does well in creating a much more tortured and flawed character who grapples with the secret of how Damien became his “son.” He also plays a fantastic anti-hero — someone who doesn't suddenly inherit the power of martial arts like everyone else seems to these days. On the other hand, Robert Thorn’s constant refusal to believe that Damien is the Anti-Christ, even after all the strange and unexplainable instances that occurred, made me want to whack him in the face.
Mia Farrow appears as sweet and soft-spoken Mrs. Baylock, who’s not quite all there. Her role is of course the nanny, sent by Satan to watch over his son. Her wordless communication with Damien is compelling to watch. With the intensity of her eyes, she is able to make us believe she is conversing with Damien. Farrow keeps this movie afloat with her transition from the sweet Mrs. Baylock to a shrieking psycho, an insane and frazzled woman.
Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick makes his debut appearance in this film but he's got nothing on the original Damien played by Harvey Stephens. Davey-Fitzpatrick doesn't have the gradual menacing look that Stephens had in the original. Davey-Fitzpatrick simply looks too cute, with his big blue eyes and freckled button nose with the iconic bowl cut — who starts looking sick every so often. Sometimes he gives the evil eye but that's all. When he stares into the camera, I checked my watch to see what time it was rather than crap my pants.
The one thing I loved about the original film was the score. It was just as creepy as the images we saw before us. In the remake, I only noticed the score until the credits. The score of a film is incredibly important in being able to capture to mood of a film, but the remake fails to do so.