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Devil May Watch

Omen impresses with solid performances and real scares

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Regardless of who you talk to, The Omen is a well put together film. It's a touch formulaic, but there are so many positives about it, and there have been so many absolutely deplorable horror films released in the past year, that I can't help but talk about what this film's makers did right.

As the opening credits rolled, I noticed that two Harry Potter alums were on the cast roster. A bit of a departure, yes, but Michael Gambon and David Thewlis were mere shadows of the characters they portrayed in the J.K. Rowling screen adaptations. Thewlis really impressed in his role as photographer Keith Jennings, and continues to cement himself in the upper echelon known as my favorite actors. Gambon turned a 180 from his most recent appearance as magician extraordinaire Dumbledore, morphing into eccentric priest Bugenhagen. (Instead of protecting a child in this film, he insists the boy's father stab him several times.)

I couldn't help but notice, as the celluloid rolled, that designer George L. Little's costumes were actually quite remarkable, but that in a film genre such as this, they will go largely overlooked. I was partly enamored with the suits in which he was clad throughout the picture, but Liev Schreiber's performance was also really solid. He is a far cry from the creepy dude that I saw pop up in the first Scream movie. In fact, he's really developed leading man looks and on-screen presence—I look forward to seeing what he dives into next. I secretly feared, heading into this movie, that Julia Styles would seem a bit out of place. And sadly, my fears were confirmed. Though her believability as a mother is more advanced than I would have guessed, she is still just a little too baby-faced to pull off a role demanding more seasoning than she possesses.

Pete Postlethwaite again brilliantly portrays a religious weirdo, and with a mug and voice like his, I'm never surprised. Postlethwaite and Thewlis were teamed up once before, if you remember, in 1996's Dragonheart.

Mia Farrow—forever unavoidably paired with Woody Allen in my mind—was a great choice as Devil-enchanted nanny Mrs. Baylock, but it was almost too easy. Her face looks plasticky, her eyes a bit vacant—and I'm not certain if that comes from being a good actress or just being a real, live, creepy-looking lady.

The Omen delivers several good scares from start to finish—some predictable, others coming completely out of the blue. The film was no cinematic masterpiece, mind you, but in a day when seemingly anything bearing a horror genre-tag can make it to the big screen, it's nice to see one—though I'd label this as more of a suspense film—that at least delivers something. Quality acting, nice outfits, and if absolutely nothing else, a stellar release date, went a long way. If anyone disagrees, please kindly watch any of Wes Craven’s last 10 pictures. Then we can talk.