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Damien: Omen II Review

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Damien Thorn, the Antichrist, is now 13 years-old and under the supervision of his rich uncle Richard Thorn and attending a military school. Here he contends with growing into manhood and his father’s inheritance to reap evil upon mankind.

★★★★★

A fairly well-thought out sequel to Richard Donner’s famous Satanic thriller The Omen, as in it’s sensible enough to retain Jerry Goldmsith’s splendidly overwrought operatic score, the procession of freakish deaths as basic plot mechanic, and even develops an interesting identity crisis for the young demon spawn. The Antichrist is about to go through puberty and that’s not going to be pretty.

Don Taylor, who replaced an irked Mike Hodges (creative differences) is certainly not up to pushing any major boundaries, rather than simply transfer the gothic apparatus of the original — Biblical cant, booming choirs, whacky slabs of pre-ordained death — to the plush confines of New England. And instead of Gregory Peck (who, if you recall, never made it the credits of The Omen) we have another prime American star drifting into age, William Holden as the uncle who has taken charge, blindly, of this precursor to the end times.

With these changes in place, the plot follows its predecessor almost verbatim. As various people catch on to the true make-up of this teen, they are eradicated by hideously bizarre methods, as augured by the presence of (as applicable) a slavering black dog or demented raven. One poor soul is trapped beneath ice, and, in the film’s oft-cited echo of David Warner’s celebrated beheading in Damien’s debut, a scientist (who has tested Damien’s unusual blood) is trapped in a lift then sliced spectacularly in half. The message: it is dad, down below, who is the perpetrator.

Jonathan Scott-Taylor does a fine job with lifting Damien to another level, adding a human dimension to the icy stare of Harvey Stephens’ baby-faced assassin. In one powerful scene, Taylor confronts his own self by finding the triple sixes on his scalp and runs, tormented by the truth, into a wood to scream, “Why me?” to the heavens, make that, Hell. It takes Lance Henrickson’s scowling sergeant at his school to point him in the right direction of Revelation for some good advice.

Once he’s swallowed the bitter pill of destiny, the film has nowhere to go than through the motions of a grand, quite effective slasher movie. The story was to be picked up by the inferior Omen III: The Final Conflict with Sam Neil taking over, and there was also a fourth episode, a complete nonsense about a female progeny that doesn’t even have the good grace to follow the Biblical template.

A rerun of the first one but satan junior is now a teenager.

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