At The Movies: The First Omen

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Verdict: 3/5

Decidedly creepy and unsettling, ‘The First Omen’ pairs good ol’ fashioned religious horror with the trauma of childbirth in this prequel to the ‘70s classic.

Set in 1971 – five years before Damien was first introduced in ‘The Omen’ – the film follows Nell Tiger Free who plays Margaret Daino, a young American woman who is sent to work in an orphanage in Rome ahead of starting a life of service to the church.

It’s there that she meets young Carlita Skianna, played by Nicole Sorace, who is ostracised from the other girls at the orphanage and locked up in the “bad room”.

Cue the creepy drawings, ominous whispers and ghostly “hallucinations,” as Margaret uncovers a terrifying conspiracy that hopes to bring about the birth of evil incarnate.

Right from the opening scene, there are plenty of callbacks to the original ‘The Omen’ (The Gregory Peck one, not the 2006 remake that no one talks about), yet it still manages to stand on its own feet as an entertaining horror film.

There’s also plenty of body horror throughout – but it’s not glorified.

It’s filmed through a female lens – focusing on the loss of bodily autonomy and the feelings of hopelessness that come with it, instead of being graphic just for the sake of shock value.

Although there a few good jump scares, it’s these moments where characters are tied down and forced to endure horrific pain that really brings the fear.

There is one spine-tingling scene in particular that is bound to start plenty of conversation and stay on your mind long after the credits roll. It also may put you off having kids.

Then there’s a scene where nuns jump on a trampoline, so there’s that.
Ultimately, being a prequel will always limit just how much freedom a movie has when it comes to storytelling, but ‘The First Omen’ does well with what it has.

Credit where credit’s due, Tiger Free gives an extraordinary performance, delivering plenty of terror as her character gets put through the wringer.

All in all, ‘The First Omen’ is an uncomfortable, hair-raising horror that puts women in the spotlight.

A word of caution to those expecting: you may want to hold off on watching this one until well after labour.

Or until you’re certain you didn’t just give birth to the anti-christ.

See this movie at Hoyts Penrith.

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