This article was written exclusively for The Film Magazine by Sophia Patfield.
From its terrifying subject to its eerie visuals, The Omen is arguably one of the most iconic horror franchises to emerge from the 1970s. Offering a unique take on the devil and his followers, as well as ruining the name Damien for many years, it’s easy to see how it has become a staple in horror cinema and continues to frighten audiences almost fourty five years after the first film’s release.
Originating as a novel series written by three separate authors, The Omen films explore the biblical ideas of who the devil is and how he would lead the world towards damnation in the final days of humanity. The Omen, alongside films like The Amityville Horror (1979), Halloween (1978) and many others, are what led the 1970s to now be known as the quintessential decade of horror.
In this edition of Ranked, we will be taking a look at The Omen Franchise and the evolution of Damien Thorn, deducing which of its genre-shaping entries are the best and which aren’t quite so good. Please note, this article will not include the 2006 remake and will only look at the original series.
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4. Omen IV: The Awakening (1991)
Made some 10 years after the previous installment in the franchise, and 15 years after the first film’s release, it was clear even during production that this film wouldn’t live up to the iconic status the franchise had already achieved.
This film is very much a rehash of the first film’s plot, with an unbelievable and even more unlikely twist. Set directly after the third film, a well off couple adopt a baby girl they name Delia, who turns out to be Damien Thorn’s daughter. However, she isn’t the devil incarnate as we are led to believe – in truth, she is carrying her twin brother’s embryo, and that embryo is then implanted into Delia’s adopted mother Karen. Karen realises that she has given birth to the next antichrist and that everyone around her is in on it except her husband who doesn’t believe her.
Sadly, many moments in the film that attempt to be horror-filled end up being almost comical, and the big reveal of vanishing twin syndrome makes very little sense as an absorbed embryo can’t just be placed into someone’s body to start thriving.
After the first director Dominique Othenin-Girard quit halfway through production and had to be replaced by Jorge Montesi, it must have been painfully obvious this film would be a disaster. It received a great deal of backlash upon its straight to television release and continues to be regarded as the worst Omen film to date.
3. Damien: Omen II (1978)
Possibly the strangest coming of age film of all time, the second chapter of the Omen series was released two years after the first but is set 10 years later and is a delectable continuation of the story, as well as an excellent set up for the third film.
As Damien grows into a teenager and is being raised by his aunt and uncle, he begins to realise that he is the devil incarnate, and going to military school with his cousin only seems to exacerbate the matter. He quickly finds out that many of the people around him are his followers and are helping to guide him towards his greater purpose. In typical horror fashion, anyone who attempts to reveal his true nature, or stand in his way, meets a gruesome end.
The Omen II expands on the prophecy from the first film and displays how being the devil is taking its toll on Damien, especially when he has to kill his cousin. But, by the end of the film he is clearly set in his ways and has begun his journey to causing Armageddon. This very well could have been higher up on this list, but sadly many of its death scenes come off as borderline comical and the story does feel slightly drawn out, especially towards the end. Nevertheless, the film leaves you wanting more and ready for the third part.
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