What Are Little Boys Made Of? (the Omen, 1976)

the_Omen_1976_PosterThe book of 1st John 4:3 states “but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”  A couple centuries back, the concept of pre-tribulation raptures and a singular big “A” Antichrist took hold. There was an obsession with this brand of dispensationalism in the 70’s.  There was the book the Late Great Planet Earth (which spun off a “documentary”) and a series of low budget Christian films starting with a Thief in the Night.

But Hollywood wanted in on this too. The end result is the Omen, directed by Richard Donner and starring Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner and one of the Doctors.

Robert and Katherine Thorne are grieving over their stillborn child when a priest offers the opportunity to bring home an infant whose mother died giving birth.  And so they raise the young boy named Damien as their own.  As time passes, strange events seem to surround the boy. He also behaves strangely, for instance freaking out as if in great pain as they approach a church. On his fifth birthday, everyone is shocked as his nanny publicly hangs herself.

The new nanny, who brings a large and imposing dog with her, is seemingly a bit odd. Robert is approached by individuals who claim his son is part of ancient prophecy. They hope to stop the rise of the Antichrist and are convinced it is young Damien. I mean, he is, because that is what the movie is about.

Peck brings an air of serious authority, which helps ground the film. There are some really effective bits, such as a photographer who notices a patter in certain anomalies of photos he has taken.

The film embraces the subject matter without any embarrassment. They are not worried about viewers thinking it is silly, and the performances give the story weight. The music by Jerry Goldsmith is quite iconic with it’s ominous church choir.

The Omen is one of the best Antichrist films, and holds up pretty well over forty years later.


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