Now Streaming | The First Omen | 2024

A belated legacy prequel to The Omen (1976) probably has no right to be this good, but Arkasha Stevenson's The First Omen is a surprisingly strong horror film in its own right. 

Richard Donner's original film told the story of the Antichrist as a child; adopted by an American diplomat, he unwittingly finds himself in the halls of power as death and destruction follow in his wake. The First Omen tells the story of the woman chosen as the vessel to give birth to the Antichrist by a rouge Catholic sect who believes that ushering in the reign of the Antichrist will drive people to the church in droves. 

It's not the most farfetched idea, considering the apocalyptic beliefs of many American evangelicals, but you'll be forgiven if you think this sounds an awful lot like this year's other demonic horror film, Immaculate. The two films share a nearly identical plot, and since they were released almost simultaneously, it's nearly impossible not to compare the two. For what it's worth, I think The First Omen is the stronger film, despite its franchise roots. For one, Stevenson's direction is consistently elegant and avoids many of the pitfalls of a legacy sequel by mostly avoiding cameos and callbacks, at least until the very end when we finally catch up with the events of original film. Those references make for nice little easter eggs for fans of The Omen, but don't feel like mere nostalgia bait.

A spooky air of gloom and dread hangs over the film, and Stevenson isn't afraid to explore the darkness at the heart of the concept. The birth of the Antichrist was never going to be pretty, and The First Omen fearlessly dives in headfirst with some truly shocking imagery. It's a beautifully constructed yet agreeably lurid piece of legacy horror that never quite feels like it should work, but it sticks the landing with aplomb.

GRADE - ★★★ (out of four)

THE FIRST OMEN | Directed by Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, Sônia Braga, Bill Nighy, María Caballero, Nicole Sorace, Tawfeek Barhom, Charles Dance | Rated R for violent content, grisly/disturbing images, and brief graphic nudity | Now available on Blu-Ray and DVD and streaming on Hulu.


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