Three Reasons Why The Omen Didn’t Interest Me

I got really excited when I saw that The Omen was available to watch on Instant Netflix tonight, so excited in fact that I turned off the boring Fright Night to watch the horror classic I’d never seen before (I don’t know if I need to watch another movie about a kid who knows something bad is happening in his neighborhood with all the adults not believing him…yawn).

In my mind, The Omen has always been up there with The Exorcist on the level of supernatural 70s horror that everyone must see, but while watching the movie, I found myself bored and realized it’s for three reasons, all of which kind of spoiled the movie for me in one way or another.

Before jumping into that, though, a bit about The Omen for those who might not know. It’s about the antichrist who comes in the form of a child named Damien who, after getting switched at birth, winds up with a well-to-do family whose father (played by Gregory Peck) goes on to become the American ambassador to England. As the film moves along, more and more people die not at the hands of the child per se, but at the hands of his followers and supernatural/crazy person means (every horror fan knows about the “It’s all for you scene” even if you haven’t seen the movie, right?). As the movie goes on, Peck’s character has to wrestle with the fact that he might have to straight up murder a child for the benefit of humanity. Side note, why the hell would anyone name their kid Damien after 1976 when this movie came out?

So here are the three main reasons The Omen didn’t really do it for me. First off, I read Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens when I was in grade school. I had heard about Gaiman through Wizard, but didn’t jump into Sandman, so when I heard he was co-writing a book, I grabbed the chance to start reading the man who would go on to become one of my all-time favorite writers.

The problem as far as The Omen goes, is that the book essentially uses the entire plot of the movie as it’s basis of parody and send-up, which isn’t a problem, unless you’ve never seen The Omen. And even then, it’s not really a problem. I enjoyed the hell out of Good Omens. It not only introduced me to Gaiman but also Pratchett who I wouldn’t read again until recently. The book had a (excuse the pun) devilish charm that lended itself very well to my growing maturity at the time and made me start thinking about some of the things I’d been hearing about/learning/reading throughout my Catholic upbringing.

But the pertinence to this story is that the book basically told me the exact structure of the movie. And, well, if that didn’t completely map things out (my memory’s never been the best) the next item on the list certainly would.

The next step in the ruination of The Omen for me was completely my fault. I really should have done my research. In college a used bookstore opened up in town, that I visited on occasion. I didn’t have a lot of money, so I basically looked for the cheapest books available. I remember buying something about a monkey, it was a mystery novel set in an insane asylum (I’ve got it lying around somewhere), the novel The Exorcist and what I assumed was the novel that The Omen was based on. I started reading and got pretty absorbed in the story, but, for whatever reason (let’s assume a hefty class schedule filled with reading I HAD to do), it took me a while to finish the book.

Then I realized that I wasn’t reading the book the movie was based on, but the novelization of the movie. Wah wah. I was pretty disappointed. Sure some aspects were changed and expounded upon, but it’s just not the same as reading the novel that spawned a movie because you get all the details of the film and more so.

Now, again siting my crappy memory, I didn’t think this would be a problem, but, while watching the movie, I just kept thinking about all the scenes that had already played out in my head thanks to reading both the novelization and Good Omens. The ending was still a surprise and seeing the photog’s head split off was worth seeing even if I was waiting for it to happen since the character was introduced, but the rest of it was already hanging out in my mind. For whatever reason, it’s not as enjoyable as watching a movie for the second time. I would imagine this is what it’s like seeing a movie based on your life. There’s an idea in your head, but it doesn’t match up with what’s on the screen and it’s kind of annoying and discombobulating.

The final reason the movie didn’t really do much for me is because I’m not scared of rottweilers. This might seem a little silly, but the breed spend a good deal of the movie lurking around corners, looking creepy and finally attacking the supposed good guys towards the end. Here’s the thing though, my next door neighbors growing up had a rottweiler. Her name was Lucy or something and I used to play with her all the time. They’re really great animals (she had her tail removed unlike the one in the above picture because, as I was told, their tails are all bone and could break stuff and knock children over). So, as you might imagine, I don’t have that ingrained fear of the animal that the filmmakers (Richard Donner made this movie!) were counting on. It’s okay, it’s not a huge part of the movie, but combined with the other two list items, it made for an overall boring movie, which is too bad because I had hoped to be, if not scared, at least a little creeped out. Instead, I just kept thinking of the parts I knew, scarier child actors and good ol’ Lucy. It’s still a classic movie, just not one that did anything for me personally.

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