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A Filmmaker's Review: “The Omen” (1976)

5/5 - A highly effective lesson in body horror

By Annie KapurPublished 4 years ago 3 min read

Over many years I have watched “The Omen” (1976) multiple times and have never actually brought myself to review it mostly because I was conflicted about the film. There are many things that make this film one of the greatest thrillers of all time and many things that make this film an amazing lesson in horror. I have been mostly conflicted about what I should cover. As someone who did their MA Thesis mostly in physical and visual body horror, I would like to concentrate on this particular realm in the film and tell you exactly why this is one of the best films to watch for this particular case. In this, we cover the way in which the human body is used as a medium and a force for the tension, the climax and the shock that we feel when something frightening happens. This film, mostly relying on tension, builds to a climax using the human body as the catalyst purely because it is the very thing the film is about: the antichrist has embodied the child. After we understand this, the body horror seems to work in incredible ways if we add to it the Latin Choir that keeps playing every single time the child is responsible for something evil. It is not the child’s body, but the bodies of the other characters that become part and parcel to the horror as the film builds to its climax seemingly at the end of the narrative.

The first aspect of the body horror is when the nanny hangs herself outside the house on the fifth birthday of the child when the dog also randomly appears out of nowhere. This is part of the body horror because it is this that presents the first real tension of the film. It is from this that the story builds and this is also the first point of shock. It is highly effective because of the event of a woman hanging herself is juxtaposed against a child’s birthday party where many children are present and seemingly having a great time. The emotional level of the body horror is that we sympathise with the children who had to witness this rather than are actually scared of the woman who has hanged herself. It is highly effective in the physical, the emotional and even the sense of how it creates meaning for the rest of the film.

When the priest dies there is a similar thing created but with a slightly different meaning. It is the priest who warned the father about the child and now, he is dead by being impaled - he has had a spear go straight through him. It is this event that teaches the audience that not only was the priest correct in his analysis of the child but now, there is nobody to help the father and guide him to rescuing his wife. The second major tension in the film happens when something of value to the narrative of ‘good’ is taken away and makes unreliable amounts of room for ‘evil’. Since the priest is now dead, the child can get on with his next move whilst it is still unknown as to how much the father believed the priest. Working emotionally for the storyline, the audience sees and recognises this as a major movement in the plot and therefore reduces the amount of hope they have for the redemption of the story.

Finally, with the death of the photographer and the parents, we get the amount of body horror that pushes the story towards the end of the film. It is the death of the photographer in the graphic method that pulls the story into its last major climax and possibly teaches the audience how hope is now lost. The father attempts to salvage it by killed the new nanny but, is unable to conquer the forces the child possesses. It is this movement at the end of the film that makes the movie defiant and therefore, subversive in its values. Unlike in “The Exorcist” where we have a redemptive quality of Father Karras collecting the demon into his own being to save the child - we have in this film, just a purely evil child.

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About the Creator

Annie Kapur

200K+ Reads on Vocal.

Secondary English Teacher & Lecturer

🎓Literature & Writing (B.A)

🎓Film & Writing (M.A)

🎓Secondary English Education (PgDipEd) (QTS)

📍Birmingham, UK

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    Annie KapurWritten by Annie Kapur

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