Bloody Countdown to Halloween: The Omen

As the spooky season raises its sharpened axe to soon fall upon us, the ghouls and goblins of Film Ireland wallow in the terror of the films that embrace the nutty freaks, bloody psychos and raging spoonatics with our ‘Bloody Countdown to Halloween’ – cue Vincent Price laugh…

 

The Omen

(Richard Donner, 1976)
 

Peter Larkin

The Omen is a part of a group of films that symbolise a child being associated with devil. Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973) also feature this theme. It is written by David Seltzer who famously said, ‘I did it strictly for the money.’ Jerry Goldsmith’s epic film score won the much deserved Oscar® in 1976. The film was released in the U.K. on 6th June 1976; it stars Gregory Peck as Dr. Robert Thorne, his wife Katherine is played by Lee Remick. In Rome, on 6th June, Robert Thorne is told that his newly born has died, he decides to substitute it with an orphan and protect his wife by never telling her the truth.

Soon after, Thorne is elected as the US Ambassador to Britain, He moves to Fulham to live happily with his wife and the child whom they name Damien. On Damien’s fifth birthday, the nanny commits suicide on the top floor looking out at all the guests. A new nanny Mrs. Baylock (Billie Whitelaw) replaces her shortly afterwards. Father Brennan (Patrick Troughton) knows of Damien’s origins and warns Dr. Thorne and also tells him that Katherine is pregnant and Damien plans to kill the unborn child. Photographer Keith Jennings (David Warner) has been investigating the Thorns ever since the Nanny’s suicide.

The thing that makes the original 1976 Omen so memorable is that it is so believable. What would you do if you were told that your child was the literal antichrist? Ignore it as Peck’s character does?

First-time actor Harvey Stephens plays Damien with a sense of subtle ambiguity. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick give brilliantly realistic performances. Billie Whitelaw is unforgettable as the mysterious Mrs. Baylock. There is good support from David Warner and Patrick Troughton.

‘Dominoes…’

Every time that I hear the track from Jerry Goldsmith’s score on my iPod as the Thorns approach the church, I can feel the roots of my hair being pulling at, just as the late great Lee Remick’s hair was by the little devilish Harvey Stephens.

It is a film about our fears. Richard Donner’s dazzling direction not only illustrates the material, but also orchestrates it to a high intensity. Gilbert Taylor’s cinematography makes England a bleak and eerie place. Stuart Baird’s editing is sharp and coherent.

The Omen is a masterpiece of horror cinema. Every time I watch it I marvel at how seriously it takes itself. You will never forget that last shot. It is one to truly remember.

Peter Larkin

Check out our blood-soaked countdown of Halloween Horror here.

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We Love… 2010: ‘The Social Network’.

We Love... 2011

Illustration by Adeline Pericart

We start 2010 by looking back at a few of our favourite films of 2010. Throughout January we’ll be adding to the list. As always, feel free to add your own favourites. If you’d like to include your own review, contact steven@filmbase.ie

The Social Network

Peter Larkin

Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth is $6.9 billion. At twenty-six, he is the world’s youngest billionaire. The Social Network was directed by David Fincher (the visual master of Se7en and Fight Club) Aaron Sorkin (Sports Night, The West Wing) wrote the screenplay which displays excellent characterisation and sharp witty dialogue. It was adapted from the non-fiction book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. In 2003 Zuckerberg was a Harvard student, his girlfriend breaks up with him. He retaliates by creating a website called ‘FaceMash’ where male students can chose which of two female students are more attractive. Zuckerberg hacks into the Harvard computer system to find the info to publish the females’ details. As a result of this, Zuckerberg is punished with six months of academic probation.

The popularity of site brings Zuckerberg to the attention of twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their business partner Divya Narendra, who propose that he work for them to programme their social networking site HarvardConnection (now known as ConnectU). Soon after, along with his best friend Eduardo Sauverin and roommates Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes create Thefacebook, which at the time was only going to available to Harvard students. Sauverin and Zuckerberg have a meeting with Napster co-founder Sean Parker, who suggests that they change the name to facebook.

The story is told in flashback between two separate lawsuits between Zuckerberg and Sauverin and Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins. Mark Zuckerberg’s reaction to the film was, ‘I liked the parts that were true’. Jesse Eisenberg’s characterisation of Zuckerberg is nothing short of genius;  every mannerism is perfectly executed and timed. It is so ironic that Zuckerberg as unsociable as he is portrayed created the worldwide phenomenon that is facebook. It does not matter that these characters are so unlikable, they draw us in and they compel us the two hours that they are on the screen.

The last  shot of the film is my personal favourite because before that shot The Social Network is just a story. It shows us what technology can do to those who are addicted to it and uninterested in anything else.

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