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Despite being a major improvement over other recent ‘legacy’ horror prequels The First Omen is predictable, tepid and relies on a lame twist. It thus never justifies its own existence.

Even in an era where the most obscure IP is mined in the hope of striking gold, few will have clamoured for a prequel to The Omen, which for all the success it had, did not leave a huge cinematic legacy. That partly explains why I wasn’t bowled over by The First Omen, though there are plenty more reasons.

The story takes place five years before the events of the 1976 film and follows a young novice who travels to Rome to be ordained. Not much later strange occurrences set her on the trail of an unholy conspiracy that aims to bring the Antichrist into this world.

Obviously The First Omen is hampered considerably by the onslaught of similar films that followed in the wake of The Omen (and The Exorcist). Narrative surprises therefore are far and few between and who doesn’t see the big third act twist coming had probably never seen a single horror film before.

That’s not to say that the film isn’t a much more accomplished movie artistically that it has any right to be, with direction that often choses mood over shocks, an engaging lead performance by Nell Tiger Free and a musical score that smartly builds upon Jerry Goldsmith’s seminal, Oscar-winning themes.

In the end, the merits of The First Omen don’t really matter though, as the picture’s only purpose is to connect a backstory nobody was interested in in the first place to a movie most of the world has forgotten by now.

release: 2024

director: Arkasha Stevenson

starring: Nell Tiger Free, Sonia Braga, Ralph Ineson, Bill Nighy


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