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The First Omen movie review & film summary (2024)

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The First Omen movie review & film summary (2024)

But first and foremost, “The First Omen” is proudly an “Omen” movie with all its symbolism, ‘70s vibes and earthy color palette and insidious scares intact; ones that will linger and multiply once you turn your lights off nightly. So if the idea of a legacy-prequel to a classic made you roll your eyes at first, think again. Not only does Stevenson, alongside her co-writers Keith Thomas and Tim Smith, remind us what made the line “It’s all for you, Damien!” so chillingly iconic back in 1976, they also instantly justify the need for an origin story for Damien, the Antichrist parented by an American diplomat and his wife, played by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick. (The new film’s homage to Peck is both wonderful and a cue that you can run straight back home and press play on Donner’s film for an experience as seamless as watching the first two “Halloween” movies back-to-back.)

The story is of Margaret Daino (a terrific Nell Tiger Free), a fresh-off-the-boat American novitiate in the splendid Rome tasked to work at an orphanage prior to taking her wows. Like Sweeney before her, she arrives at the Italian capital all wide-eyed and innocently excited as if she is the “Suspiria” dancer pirouetting into her dance academy. To Margaret, the wows of chastity and poverty she is about to take is her existential purpose, especially at a time when there is political unrest everywhere and people are turning their backs to the church. Still, she does let a fellow novitiate—the enthralling Maria Caballero’s Luz—dress her up in seductive clothes and take her to a hot dance club. Why cover their bodies and give up on adventures sooner than they need to, Luz believes. Perhaps a little tempted, and definitely too timid to challenge the confident authority of Luz, Margaret follows her lead, and wakes up alarmingly not recalling what happened with the guy she met the night before.

Elsewhere, Margaret immediately forms a bond with Carlita played by Nicole Sorace, an unforgettable newcomer we’ll hopefully hear more from, delivering a performance both vulnerable and terrifying. An eerie troublemaker like Margaret used to be during her problem-child days, Carlita gradually settles into Margaret affection and protection, something that doesn’t sit well with the orphanage’s elders like the strict and intimidating Sister Silva (Sonia Braga). The other elders in the film range from Bill Nighy’s high-ranking Cardinal Lawrence and Ralph Ineson’s Father Brennan, a character who looks like he just walked out of the set of the 1976 film and arrived at Stevenson’s prequel. Also in the mazy mix is Father Gabriel, a young priest Margaret befriends before finding herself stuck deep inside a bone-chilling conspiracy where no one can be trusted.

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