In the last few years, we've seen two prequels to The Exorcist and a remake of The Amityville Horror, so it was probably only a matter of time before someone got around to reviving that other popular 1970s supernatural horror movie, The Omen. The producers of this film had an especially timely marketing hook: a release date (6/6/06) that lends itself to ad campaigns with a mark-of-the-Beast theme.
In other ways, though, the remake of The Omen cannot help but seem as dated as the movie on which it is based. This is partly because the new film is extremely faithful to the original. Composer Marco Beltrami does not just emulate the style of Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar-winning score for the original movie, he even re-uses some of its themes. And screenwriter David Seltzer does not adapt his earlier script so much as dust it off and tweak a few time-sensitive details; for example, where the first film speculated that "the Common Market" was the fulfillment of a prophecy about the Roman Empire—a key piece in the end-times puzzles of Hal Lindsey and others at that time—the new film refers to "the European Union" instead.
However, most of the other biblical interpretations remain as they were, and they just don't sound as imminent or, well, ominous as they once did. Take, for example, the poem that is recited several times in both films, which refers to the return of Jews to Zion. The modern state of Israel was only 28 years old when the original film came out, and at that time, it was alarmingly common for evangelicals to speculate that the Rapture or the Second Coming might happen before the nation's 40th birthday. (As one who grew up in the evangelical subculture at that time, I vividly remember thinking I might never see adulthood because of this.) So the first Omen came out at a time of great eschatological urgency. Today, however, the Israeli state is more than twice as old as it was back then, life goes on like it always has, and if anyone has proposed a new date for the end of the world, it would not seem to enjoy the widespread consensus, even on a speculative level, that the old date had.
The remake does try to create a sense of imminent dread, though. In one of the few significant changes to the script, the new Omen begins with a sequence set at the Vatican, in which an astronomer spots a suspicious sign in the heavens, and a cardinal argues before the Pope that various recent news items are fulfillments of a passage in Revelation (which this film quotes about as accurately as Pulp Fiction quoted Ezekiel). The destruction of the World Trade Center, the loss of the Columbia space shuttle, the Southeast Asian tsunami, the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and so on—all these things herald the imminent arrival of the Antichrist.
The film then settles into its familiar narrative. Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber), an American diplomat stationed in Rome, arrives at a hospital to discover that the child borne by his wife Katherine (Julia Stiles) is dead. However, Katherine does not yet know of the death of their child, but a shady hospital priest has a plan: He offers a different baby, whose mother had just died in childbirth. Robert wonders if he should just tell his wife the truth about their dead child, but the priest says, "God will forgive this little deception."