The First Omen movie poster
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The First Omen
The First Omen movie poster

The First Omen Movie Review

Available on Blu-ray and DVD on July 30, 2024 (Buy on Amazon)

Satan is up to it again, fucking with those pesky Catholics… once again. The First Omen, a prequel to 1976’s The Omen, stars Nell Tiger Free (“Servant”) as a hot young nun who begins to suspect that one of the girls under her care is being groomed by the less-hot older nuns to give birth to the antichrist. 

The First Omen is exactly what you’d expect: yet another horror film about Catholic religious figures and the Devil, with few surprises or revelations. There’s nothing new to see here, unless you’ve never seen another church-based horror movie where the main character has visions and manic priests warn of bad things to come.

Nonetheless, director Arkasha Stevenson, who co-wrote the movie with Tim Smith and Keith Thomas, executes her otherwise generic film with precision. Stevenson brings 1970s Rome to life with vibrancy and color. The well-written lead characters elevate the material, their chemistry with one another believable. While The First Omen is unfortunately rarely scary, Stevenson layers on the creepy vibe with some startling visions and frightful moments. Stevenson isn’t afraid to get gory either; while there isn’t a lot, she delivers a few memorably grotesque scenes.

Thanks to the solid screenplay, Tiger Free gives a refreshingly strong performance; it’s the type of horror performance that will quickly be forgotten to time, underappreciated despite the challenges of the role. She goes all in, and the audience benefits. Maria Caballero is also great in a supporting role.

As well made as The First Omen is, it just can’t escape Satan’s grip–and the fact we’ve seen it all before. At a full two hours, it feels long too; the first hour or so drags at times as Stevenson patiently–too patiently–sets the stage for what’s to come. Coupled with a rightful sense of inevitability and ultimately predictability, The First Omen struggles to establish its purpose other than to make a few bucks.

The movie’s final few minutes also irked me. Too on the nose for its own good (“Hey look, remember we’re a prequel!”), the ending feels like a reaction to test screenings or studio interference; had Stevenson ended the movie five minutes earlier, the movie would have been better for it.

But it really doesn’t matter. The First Omen is a harmless horror flick about Catholics and the Devil. It has a lot going for it, and yet it doesn’t have enough. There are priests. There are nuns. There is the Beast. Again. Enough already!

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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