Now that every good horror movie has been remade or is in the process of being remade, the newest step in Hollywood’s unoriginality is making these horror films into television shows. Running off the success of MTV’s Scream and A&E’s hit show Bates Motel, a spinoff of the Psycho film series, A&E has decided to try their hand at The Omen franchise with their new show Damien.
To preface the next comment, it should be known that The Omen is an amazing film and easily in the top 20 best horror films of all time. That being said, the original The Omen film wasn’t all that original to begin with. It came nearly a decade after Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, a film that fed off peoples fear of the occult and terrified nearly every expecting mother that was brave enough to watch. For those wondering what happened to the baby at the end of Rosemary’s Baby, you might be able to consider Damien the answer. Truly the son of Lucifer himself, Damien brought hell (pun intended) to everyone he encountered and probably didn’t help the adoption rate soar any higher.
A&E decided to give us adult Damien (Bradley James), who apparently now has no idea that he is the anti-Christ. This is a bit of a stretch considering that young Damien certainly knew he was evil by age 12 in the second film and took full advantage of it. I cannot forget to mention that the actor playing Damien isn’t even remotely old enough to portray the man who should now be at least 45 years old, but I am a horror nerd and most people watching will be unaware of this, so I will move on.
The show begins in Syria, where Damien, on his 30th birthday, is taking photos of the war. When he stops to rescue an elderly woman who has been knocked over by soldiers, she touches his face and brings back all of the memories from his fifth birthday, which fans of the film know as the day his nanny killed herself for him. Going back to what I said before, his fifth birthday was in 1976 so that would make Damien 45, not 30.
Damien is kicked out of Syria, which makes it very difficult for him to find the old woman who gave him a glimpse into his childhood. While searching for a favor to get himself back into the country, Damien runs into an old family friend, Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey) who hints that she has been keeping track of Damien his whole life. Hershey has the potential of being terrifying in this series and they seriously underutilize her in the pilot, giving her maybe five minutes of air time. This is a serious mistake as she is probably the only good actor on the show thus far.
Meanwhile, Damien’s friend Kelly (Tiffany Hines) is researching the old lady and Damien’s background to try and figure out what is happening to him. Conveniently, Kelly managed to capture the interaction with the old woman on camera and translated what she said to a Bible verse about Jesus being baptized at 30 and starting preaching his word. Jesus was the son of God and all of the signs are all pointing to Damien being the son of the Devil.
Most people know the story of The Omen already. The film is 40 years old, which is more than enough time for people to learn who Damien is and the story behind him. The pilot episode of Damien spends far too much time on unnecessary backstory and not enough time captivating the audience. The acting is subpar, as is the dialogue and we are forced to ignore the fact that any of The Omen sequels even existed. So, where we were forced to suffer through the joke that was The Omen remake at the films 30th anniversary, so are we to suffer through a series that mangles the story at its 40th.
Let’s face it, Damien is no Bates Motel. There was a lot of potential for this show that was wasted and with a pilot episode this boring, I am sure they lost themselves some viewers. A&E can only hope that the additions of Barbara Hershey and Scott Wilson will be enough to draw people in for a second chance. As for myself, I think I will pass.
Damien airs on A&E Monday nights at 10PM
Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter