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The Omen Collection Main

The Omen Collection: Damien: Omen II Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

The Omen Collection Large

Directed by Don Taylor
Written by Stanley Mann and Michael Hodges (story by Harvey Bernhard)
1978, 107 minutes, Rated R

William Holden as Richard Thorn
Lee Grant as Ann Thorn
Jonathan Scott-Taylor as Damien
Robert Foxworth as Paul Buher
Lucas Donat as Mark Thorn
Sylvia Sidney as Aunt Marion
Lance Henriksen as Sgt. Neff

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Seven years ago, a series of tragic events left Damien Thorn orphaned and he was sent to live with his Uncle Richard and Aunt Ann in Chicago. He is now thirteen and attends a prestigious military academy with his cousin Mark. Everyone loves Damien except his prickly Aunt Marion, who doesn’t trust him. Damien is incredibly smart and popular at school and has caught the eye of the new platoon leader Sgt. Neff. Neff instructs him to read the Book of Revelation in the Bible to gain insight into his true identity. It is here Damien learns he is in fact the Antichrist and begins testing his powers.

The script for Damien: Omen II, written by Stanley Mann (Firestarter) and Michael Hodges (Pulp), the latter of which served as the original director on the project before being replaced by Don Sharp (The Island of Dr. Moreau), tells a deliberately paced story of discipline and family values gone to hell. Damien is raised in a privileged environment and genuinely cares for his relatives, but is dealt a rude awakening in his teenage years, one that destroys his family and sets a new course for his life. The story builds on the premise of Evil among us and raises the stakes with a higher body count than the original, including some surprisingly graphic death scenes.

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William Holden (The Wild Bunch) turned down the lead role in the original picture, but headlines the sequel as Richard Thorn, titan of industry and loving father/uncle. He spends the majority of the picture in denial and does his best to remain rational once a series of deadly accidents plague his inner circle. Lee Grant (Mulholland Drive) co-stars as Richard’s wife Ann, a no-nonsense woman with a strong reserve. Despite their star power, the film is actually carried by Jonathan Scott-Taylor (The Four Feathers) as Damien. He shines in the part and handles the transition from innocent teenager to menacing antagonist with ease. Some of his best scenes are opposite newcomer Lucas Donat as Damien’s cousin, Mark, as the two share great chemistry together. Genre fans will be happy to see Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead) as Neff, in an early role brimming with his quiet intensity.

Damien: Omen II is a dark spin on the classic coming-of-age story that asks the question, “What would you do if one day you discovered you were the Antichrist?” Playing to fears of religious prophecy and the loss of free will, our young protagonist has a brief moment of crisis before accepting his fate and becoming the ultimate villain. Director Don Sharp brings out the best in his cast and does a respectable job balancing the family dynamic with the powers of darkness. Composer Jerry Goldsmith returns with another powerful score that really elevates the material. This film is flashier than the original, featuring cinematography by Bill Butler (Jaws), but stands on its own as a solid follow up. After this the franchise begins to flounder with a series of missed opportunities, but these first two pictures are winners.

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