The Omen (1976)

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

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 29 reviews

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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.


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.


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

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 byImdbtruth October 10, 2020

Sexual Content is Present

It's very mild sexual content, but early in the movie the husband and wife are starting to make out and they remark about how there's no beds moved in... Continue reading
Adult Written byrabika August 2, 2018

They don't make 'em like they used to

When I was about 13 (born in 88, so I'm an older millenial) I got into a bit of a horror movie phase. Instead of striking that idea down, my parents decide... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 3, 2011

On for 11 year olds and older

I totally love the movie it has some violent parts but it was very very clean no inappropriate kissing seance or anything that could and would relate to that. t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byLeonvol March 13, 2021

The devils son

I Will say that this movie is okay. I was a little disappointed because many people says that this movie is one of the best horror movies of all time. Not in my... 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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