Viking Night: The Omen
By Bruce Hall
December 11, 2012
Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit quite like an evening with the Prince of Darkness. I didn't do it on purpose; The Omen just happened to be next on the list. Plus, I didn't want to do it at Halloween. Too obvious. But move it back and you're getting too close to July 4th, which seems unpatriotic. And then there's Easter. There's just really no good time to find out your child is the Antichrist, and I'll admit it's bad timing to bring it up just weeks before the biggest day of the year. You know, December 21st. The end of the world. Now it really seems odd.
In fact, it almost feels like a prophecy.
Which is me, stumbling back around to The Omen. For those not in the know, that would be Richard Donner's Bicentennial classic about a couple who discover that their son is...well...the Antichrist. It starts out about the way you'd figure, with a child so evil that it starts murdering things the moment it was born.
Robert and Katherine Thorn (Gregory Peck, Lee Remick) desperately wanted a child. For a while, it looked like this was about to happen, and it did - but not quite the way they'd planned. Katherine loses the baby and nearly her life in childbirth, but a kindly priest offers him the newborn child of an anonymous mother who didn't survive her own delivery. It also turns out that Damien, as he comes to be named, was born at the exact moment the Thorn's child was delivered stillborn.
That also seems very odd. Sort of like...a prophecy.
Life seems great. The thorns and their little bundle of evil run, laugh, play, have picnics and wear lots of brightly colored polyester clothes for a few years, and then things change. Strange goings on begin to follow Damien around. Animals are terrified of him, he gives people the creeps, and his nanny happily commits suicide in front of everyone at his fifth birthday party. Later, Damien flips out and punches his mother in the face when the Thorns attempt to take him to church. Then, a creepy priest takes an unusual interest in Damien and begins following the child and his family around. He’s burdened by a horrible secret but like the mythical Cassandra, he has trouble getting anyone’s attention.
It’s not easy being a prophet.
Meanwhile hostility begins to develop between Katherine and Damien, to the point where any misfortune that befalls her she blames on a son she views like an alien life form. She doesn't know the kid isn't hers, and this comes back to haunt Robert when it turns out the Creepy Priest was on his side all along. At least he thinks he is, when he says that Damien really IS the Lord of Evil, and really DOES have the most adorably precocious power of life and death over whomever he wills. The clues keep coming to find Robert, until he finds himself convinced that the priest might be telling the truth, after all.