The Omen (1976)

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
The Omen (1976) Movie Poster Image
Gory original Satanism saga; popular but plodding.
  • R
  • 1976
  • 111 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 20 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The forces of evil here are portrayed as much stronger and better-organized than those who represent good, who seem mostly clueless or marginalized as fanatics. Ambassador Thorn and his wife are decent people and caring parents -- not that this counts for much in the end. It's poignant that Thorn doesn't just fall for the first allegations that Damien is demonic, but puts off the truth as long as he can.

Violence

Deaths are grotesque and explicit, with a man skewered (the corpse left standing upright) by a falling lightning rod, a woman committing suicide by hanging in public, another fatally falling, and an especially notorious decapitation. There is a violent, ultimately fatal beat-down between a man and a woman, and a man is shot trying to kill a child.

Sex
Language

God's name in a mostly hellfire-and-brimstone context.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a classic horror feature, with a child complicit in his (adoptive) mother's own death and evil triumphant in the end (with the qualifier that it was conceived as just the first in a series of films, so it's just the opening installment, not the whole story). It casts a small boy in an especially negative light as the literal antichrist, for whom the only fair treatment, according to this, is a ritual execution by knife. The gory deaths and injuries, including decapitation and impalements, were considered shockingly explicit in their day.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydigitex30189 April 9, 2008

AMAZING!!!

Parents should note, that while this movie is celebrating its 31st anniversary this year, it's still pretty nasty. A priest gets stabbed by a falling ligh... Continue reading
Parent Written byPlague January 8, 2010

The Omen

Great movie! Not much scary as it is creepy. The killings are graphic, but the story itself is well made.
Teen, 14 years old Written byRivern October 1, 2010

The Omen - A Classic (Horror?) Film

This is by far the absolute best movie I have ever seen in my life. Now, the violence isn't as graphic as CSM and some others say, and to be honest, it... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJess17 March 31, 2013

Fine for the 21st century kid

Obviously a classic movie that for the time was scary but for nowadays there is hardly anything scary that this film has to offer. Several death scenes are no m... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Europe, U.S. ambassador to Britain Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) spares his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) from the tragic news that she's lost her first-born son in childbirth by substituting an orphaned baby. The boy is brought up in their wealthy English household as Damien (Harvey Stevens), a quiet kid around whom weird and scary things seem to happen. A priest warns Thorn that Damien is Satan's spawn. As the creepy incidents pile up, Ambassador Thorn, with the help of a reporter and few other allies, starts investigating Damien's shadowy origins, and begins to uncover that he's been conned by an underground conspiracy of devil-worshippers into adopting the legendary antichrist. This incarnation of all evil will usher in the End of the World.

Is it any good?

This 1976 shocker is sturdily built but predictable, with its extravagant death scenes tending to stand out more so than the lugubrious narrative. The plot sounds pretty compelling indeed, but in cinematic terms it mostly translates as a string of spectacular deaths (usually in horrendous accidents that are not exactly Acts of God) for anyone who poses a threat to Damien -- with lots of "dead" space in between, as Thorn struggles to confirm/deny the omen-ous truth. Characterizations don't go very deep, but horror fans will appreciate the new ground this film broke.

As far as themes, there's the sense of a modern, secular world in which the bulwarks of traditional Christianity are absent or weak. This means even decent people like the Thorns are powerless when an unseen but very hands-on devil and his minions take the offense.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why this movie was popular. Do you think it's a "religious" film in any sense? How does it compare with the Left Behind book-and-movie-and-radio blockbuster series? You can look up the Bible passages and interpretations this movie cites to see how Hollywood played fast-and-loose with Scripture, and maybe study what historians have to say about Satanic lore and its popularization by both church authorities and horror-storytellers.

Movie details

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