The Omen 666 (2006)

Starring: Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Michael Gambon, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick

Directed by: John Moore

Rating: 1 2 and a half

Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien in The Omen 666

Let's face it, I wasn't expecting much from this blatant cash in on the 6th day of the 6th month of the 6th year of the 21st century. Which is just as well, because 'not much' is exactly what I got.

The film starts off promisingly enough, as a synod of wrinkly Cardinals flash through a slideshow of disasters (including, perhaps somewhat cynically, the Twin Towers and Boxing Day tsunami) that herald the coming of the Antichrist. And whaddaya know, there's American ambassador's deputy Robert Thorn and his wife (Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles), welcoming their adopted son Damien into the world. A few years later, the ambassador himself is dead (killed in a very suspicious accident, natch) and Robert Thorn has stepped into his shoes, moving to London and into what looks like Frank's castle from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Of course, the bits we all remember from The Omen of 1976 are the series of gory deaths which befall everyone who stands in Satan Jr's way, and in this respect, The Omen 666 doesn't entirely disappoint, but nor does it break any new ground. In fact, in all ways, the remake remains slavishly faithful to the original version, which makes it kinda hard to pack any surprise punches - although it does manage to make you jump a couple of times, I suppose.

David Thewlis as photographer Keith Jennings and Liev Schreiber as Robert Thorn in The Omen 666

Some inspired casting - including the ever reliable David Thewlis as the photographer whose snaps ominously foreshadow the deaths of Damien's enemies, Pete Postlethwaite as the crazy Irish priest Father Brennan and who else but the devil's mother herself, Mia Farrow, as the sinister nanny, Mrs Baylock - is let down badly by appallingly unconvincing performances from Julia Stiles and Liev Schreiber, an actor so charmless and wooden he makes Clive Owen look positively charismatic. Gregory Peck he ain't. As for young Damien, with his hollow staring eyes and freaky bowl haircut, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick has the horror kiddy look down to a T - and nice to know that the devil enjoys a midnight peanut butter and jelly sandwich like the rest of us.

Mia Farrow as sinsiter nanny Mrs Baylock in The Omen 666

Throw in the fact that the entire thing appears to have been filmed on an old Hammer lot, with Dartmoor doubling for the Italian countryside, and, despite the chilling creepiness of the concept, you end up with a somewhat plodding, uninspired, cheap looking horror flick that keeps throwing up the kind of stupid questions you really shouldn't ask yourself during a film - like why, in this day and age, would any sensible parents call their scary adopted child Damien - haven't they seen, um, The Omen?

Well, if you've not seen it either, I wouldn't bother with this clunky remake, I'd go straight for the classic '70s original. The devil may get all the best music, but he doesn't necessarily have all the best films.

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