Okay, so today is the 6th day of the 6th month of the (if we stretch our imaginations a bit) 6th year. 666, the number of the beast!
What better day for the remake of the 1976 classic The Omen to be released under the new name of The Omen (2006). So we made a rare visit to the cinema, more accurately the Fairfax Corner Cinema De Lux where we were pampered by comfy recling seats, and more legroom than an economy transatlantic flight.
Maybe it was the warm weather, maybe it was the 19:35 showing, maybe it was the lack of community spirit, but the audience needed some serious social therapy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to films where audience participation was a must, and I don’t mind a bit of chatter during the previews, but shouting and yelling to friends during the movie is not on… Neither is taking a 3 or 4 year old girl to see The Omen (2006), really, the poor kids screams after the first tense sequence were met with catcalls and hoots of laughter, and the suddenly caring mother took the child from the theatre, but returned a few minutes later with the kid in her arms to watch from the aisle!
Seriously, there was something wrong with the crowd. In a horror film I expect gasps, maybe screams, not riotous laughter when the young nanny throws herself from the top of the Thorn home (“It’s all for you, Damien!”). I’m disturbed when people start photographing each other on the cellphones, and calling their friends during the main feature. I became what I hated as a kid, the adult that went and got the manager, except this is a cinema, and so the manager was about 18 and didn’t care that one customer was a bit annoyed by an unruly crowd in a sold out horror film… Then a fight broke out, security were called, and the civil part of the audience, my group included, decided it was time for a refund.
So I can’t say how good the film was. Much of the “England” sequence was shot in Prague, Czech Republic, and Croatia, and looks like it. The tile topped railings and walls, the brick colour and style, even the light is obviously anywhere near Grosvenor Square, London, W1A… which oddly enough is also nowhere near where the US Embassy is in London in the film. Anybody with even the vaguest notion of London will wonder where the new Embassy digs are with its panoramic view of the London Eye and the The Palace of Westminster. They will also wonder where on earth the Thorn home is, set in acres of parkland but again with the London Eye close on the horizon, it must be in St. James’s Park.
As for casting, Julie Styles is too young and not as convincing as Lee Remick, Liev Schreiber is certainly no Gregory Peck. Harvey Stephens (II) who played the original Damien makes an appearance as a tabloid reporter, and David Thewlis made me want to get my cameras out once more through the energy of his performance as the eccentric and excitable phtographer Keith Jennings. Pete Postlethwaite was as impressive as always, and unfortunately we were driven out by the mob before we got to see Michael Gambon as Bugenhagen.
So, overall, it was a remake. With ticket prices as high as they are I may end up following the lead of some of my coworkers and just buying the DVD release, as it will be cheaper than a couple of movie tickets, and avoids what felt like a trip to the zoo. After all, if I don’t like the audience in my home, I can always ask them to leave!