There is a sign in the heavens that an astronomer in the Vatican has spotted and believes that the combination of those three comets means that the End Times are almost upon us and the Antichrist is about to be born. Meanwhile, in a Rome hospital an American diplomat, Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) is rushing to see his wife Katherine (Julia Stiles) who is giving birth to their first child. But there has been a complication and the priest attending informs him that the baby has died. However, there is a chance for happiness if they substitute a different infant for the deceased one...
Or not, as the case may be. The only reason for remaking The Omen, apart from the usual moneymaking motive behind every remake of a classic horror title that occured during the 2000s, was so the studio could release it on the 6th of June, 2006. Don't get it? The date is otherwise written as 6/6/06, or 666 if you prefer, that's right, the number of the Beast as denoted in the Book of Revelations (except it isn't, fresh research discovered the number was actually 616). Other than that, you may be at a loss to fathom any point to what essentially was a scene for scene recreation.
Choosing actors with little feel for the material was this version's first mistake, with only David Thewlis's photographer well cast; rendering the story with a television miniseries sensibility was their second. There's very little sense of dread, and this Omen was made solely for those who had never seen the original for whom that sense of fatalism in the narrative might not - might not - settle into a leaden predictability long before the end. Part of the original's power was that grim feeling that the characters were banging their heads against a brick wall of evil, something totally unyielding, but here it's more like a dutiful going through the motions.
We skip forward a couple of years now that Robert is UK ambassador to see Damien's birthday party, the one where his nanny hangs herself to make way for Mrs Blaylock. Now, Billie Whitelaw was formidable in the original, but here the role has inexplicably gone to Mia Farrow, who might be Woody Allen's idea of a scary individual, but as Rosemary's Baby showed was always far better on the other side of the moral divide. After that it's a plod through the best bits, and with David Seltzer returning to script you might have thought he would put a new spin on his old twists.
Sad to say, what is new barely registers, with only the smallest variation, so it's not a goldfish bowl we see drop, or a sheet of glass that provides the series' most famous death scene. The first film started off the whole novelty death fashion in horror movies, yet here the name of the game is slavish following in the footsteps of better work. Stiles doesn't seem the type to be taken in by superstitious talk even when she is, and Schreiber simply comes across as numb no matter what mishap is befalling him, so while the world is no less captivated by the thought of supernatural forces than it was in 1976, this conspicuously failed to set audiences checking their kid's heads for the mark of the Beast or any similar actions. It's not terrible, it's resolutely average, and that's perhaps its worst crime. Music by Marco Beltrami (and oh, how we miss Jerry Goldsmith).