Son of a?devil

By and

“The Omen”

20th Century Fox

Directed by John Moore

Written by David Seltzer

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

Rated R/100 minutes

Opens June 6, 2006

Two-and-a-half out of four stars

Aaron Allen

The Daily Utah Chronicle

John Moore’s re-make of the 1976 horror landmark “The Omen” is of the belief that louder is scarier.

When a film begins with one of those frenzied title sequences hashed together out of foreboding newspaper clippings and ghoulish imagery, scored to a soundtrack that sneaks up on you like a screaming freight train, my heart sinks.

OK, so “The Omen” has no pretense of being subtle. I must deal with that and move on. What we have then is a handsomely shot “boo-film” in which lots of things jump in from out of the frame and go “boo!” It’s the cheapest way to scare up the scares-and the best way to get your date to grab your arm. I hope you’re taking notes, fellas.

Liev Schreiber plays Robert Thorn, a U.S. ambassador living in London with his wife, Kate (Julia Stiles). Together they raise a 5-year-old son named Damien, who, with his raven-black hair and pale, regarding eyes, is a bit unsettling. Kids don’t want to play with him, the monkeys at the zoo attack him through the glass and his nanny throws herself off the roof with a noose around her neck. “It’s all for you, Damien!” she shouts, moments before her death.

What Robert knows and what Kate doesn’t is that Damien is not really their son-their son died at birth. While Kate slept, a priest at the hospital offered Robert a different child-one whose mother had abandoned him. Rather than devastate his wife, Robert accepted the substitution and kept quiet.

Meanwhile, the Vatican, enjoying the movie role of the summer as the hub of all things conspiratorial and spooky, discovers a comet in the sky that could be the last sign of the apocalypse. Robert is approached by Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite), who raves that Damien is the son of the devil and that Robert must spill Damien’s blood on holy ground before it’s too late.

Quite reasonably, Robert listens to five minutes of this and writes off Father Brennan as one taco short of a Grande Meal-but fatal circumstances force Robert to locate Damien’s real mother and learn the truth.

This new “Omen” was written by David Seltzer, who has been with the franchise since its ungodly birth. His script is essentially a mystery story-one with interesting twists and turns.

He’s ill-paired with director John Moore, the hack who put Owen Wilson “Behind Enemy Lines” and us in a state of noisy numbness. Moore does the same here, losing the intricacies of the story and the characters in his booming effort to scare us.

He does provide a few effectively horrifying moments-Schreiber explores a cemetery that would give Stephen King the creeps, Stiles has a deadly encounter with an IV and Mia Farrow, as the new nanny who understands Damien a little too well, gives us chills just by being sweet. She gets the best “boo!” moment in the movie.

Ultimately, “The Omen” falls short. Had it held back on the noisy shocks and focused more on the quiet creeps, it might have been devilish fun.

“You know what this IV reminds me of? Those delicious Otter Pops. Mmm…my favorite was grape. Now I will kill you. Because I’m evil.”